8.1 was an improvement?
Who implied that?
8.1 isn't really an improvement over 7 in the very same ways 8.0 isn't an improvement.
It's an App Delivery System designed by Microsoft to do one thing: Get people to spend money in the App Store.
Okay, two things: Run on their tablets, which they hope to sell like hotcakes. Too little, too late, IMO.
There's really nothing Windows 8 does for you, outside of the one minor new feature I mentioned above (mounting ISOs) for desktop use. It's clear that not only is Microsoft NOT emphasizing desktop development, but they're actively hobbling it in order to drive us to want something else. Some say it boots up quicker, though in my experience (with SSDs on the job) it's not that big a difference from Win 7.
But the 3rd party developers of the world just won't let Microsoft get away with hobbling it - Ivo Beltchev (ClassicShell), Big Muscle (Aero Glass for Win 8), T800 Productions (Folder Options X), Antibody Software (WizMouse), Georg Fischer (ShellFolderFix), Stfan Kueng (Subversion and grepWin), and a whole host of others are making it better again.
And I'm very glad for that.