The most important group of Windows 8.1 improvements for the desktop-and-mouse set come in one simple dialog box.
To get to the box (devilishly well hidden), go to the old-fashioned desktop, right-click on any blank area down on the taskbar, and choose Properties. Then, in the Taskbar and Navigation properties dialog box, click the Navigation tab.
Every native desktop user should check the box marked "When I sign in or close all apps on a screen, go to the desktop instead of Start" down in the Start screen section. That's the boot-to-desktop option, and it works well.
The other options aren't so black-and-white. Let's take a look at the effects of other settings in this box.