Windows 8 users should circle October 17 on the calendar. On that day at 7 a.m. ET / 4 a.m. PT Microsoft will release Windows 8.1 as a free upgrade or download through the Windows Store. A day later on October 18, the new version of the operating system will also be available at retail stores and on new devices.
The release of Windows 8.1 comes almost a year to the date after Microsoft released Windows 8 and the ARM-based Surface RT tablet.
Senior marketing communications manager Brandon LeBlanc blogged the news on the official Blogging Windows blog: “It’s very exciting to be delivering Windows 8.1 to consumers just before Windows 8 celebrates its 1-year anniversary,” LeBlanc said.
“Windows 8.1 brings many improvements in areas like personalization, Internet Explorer 11, search which is powered by Bing, built-in apps including a few new ones, an improved Windows Store experience, and cloud connectivity with SkyDrive (and much more) that people will enjoy,”
Announcing the news, LeBlanc rehashed the rather hollow Redmond party line that Windows 8.1 “continues the vision that began with Windows 8.” In reality, Microsoft’s been forced to take a step back by re-introducing features familiar to users of Windows that were dumped or hidden in Microsoft’s rush to touch on Windows 8.
That rush cost Microsoft some sales, as customers dodged the “unfamiliar” look-and-feel of the new operating system.
Intrigued? Incredulous? Impatient? Just plain interested? Microsoft’s already offering a preview version of the Windows 8.1 update for those daring souls who don’t mind delving deep into unfinished software.