A major update to Microsoft's Windows 8.1 operating system, due out in March, has been leaked on several file-sharing torrent websites and shows changes to the start screen interface, such as a shutdown menu, control panel button and better control over Metro apps.

The important thing to remember is that this is a pre-release build, meaning it is unfinished, but what is interesting is the fact that while Microsoft still wants people to use the start screen, it recognises that the functionality could be a lot better and is taking steps to address issues users have had with the software.

According to those who have used the leaked software, Windows 8.1 Update 1 will come with a search button and Restart / Shutdown menu which will be always be seen where previously these were only accessible through the Charms menu which is hidden by default.

Title bar

There is also a new title bar that sits at the top of all Metro apps, which gives you a dropdown menu with options including uninstalling, closing, minimising, resizing and snapping apps together into the tile layout.

The PC settings menu on the start screen also includes an option to take you straight to the Control Panel now instead of accessing it from the desktop mode.

As for the desktop mode, Microsoft has added a new option to the taskbar settings that allows you to show Windows Store apps directly on the taskbar.

According to The Verge, which installed the leaked release, if you start a Metro app from the desktop, the taskbar sits on top of the app at the bottom of the screen until you interact with the app, so you're not just suddenly thrown into full-screen mode with no options.

Desktop vs Metro

However once you're interacting with the app, the taskbar at the bottom disappears from view and hovering your mouse at the bottom of the screen doesn't bring it back, which could either be a bug or deliberately designed that way.

There's no word on whether the desktop mode will still run two instances of the same app at the same time, or if it will be able to tell the difference, for example accessing Skype from the desktop and accessing Skype as a Windows Store app.

The completed Windows 8.1 Update 1 is set to be released in March, just before Microsoft's annual Build developers conference in April, where Microsoft is expected to announce Windows 9.

Currently codenamed "Threshold", the new version of Windows will look to address the many issues and complaints users have had with both Windows 8 and Windows 8.1, moving much further than the changes in the new Windows 8.1 Update 1.

According to new data from Net Applications, Windows 8.1 has gained 0.35% and its total market share now stands at 3.95%.