Windows81PreviewSta_01_PageMicrosoft just announced the official release date for Windows 8.1, saying it will make the finished version of the operating system update available in stores on Oct. 18 and online via the Windows Store a day before, on Oct. 17.

Windows 8.1, which had previously been released as an unfinished preview, will also be available on new PCs and tablets on Oct. 18, according to a post by Microsoft on the official Blogging Windows site.

This release, just shy of year since the Windows 8 debut. It’s part of a broader attempt by Microsoft to update features in Windows and other products on a faster schedule, and more incrementally. Previously the company was on a three-year Windows release cycle.

It’s also an opportunity, at least, for Microsoft to boost Windows 8 sales. Consumer PC sales have been slumping as many people opt for iPads and other competing devices instead.  The Oct. 18 release date for Windows 8.1 means that Windows PCs and tablets on retail shelves for the holidays will be running the newest version of the operating system.

The update brings a variety of changes, many of them designed to address the criticism of the operating system since its release. For example, users will be able to set the operating system to boot directly to the traditional desktop, bypassing the new Start screen.

Other changes include the return of a Start button on the desktop, although it’s designed to take users to the new Start screen rather than to the classic pop-up menu used in older Windows versions. Microsoft is releasing several of its own apps for Windows 8.1, including a Food & Drink app, Bing Health & Fitness, and Movie Moments, for lightweight video editing.

Microsoft has also integrated its Bing search engine more deeply into the experience, with a new universal search feature called “Smart Search” that makes it faster to search across apps, files, settings and the web.

[PreviouslyHands-on with Windows 8.1: What to expect from Microsoft’s big update]

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  • lucifer

    I can’t wait for this. I love Windows 8 New look. Hopefully they announce the price of the retail version soon. I want to know how much I have to shell out to get this OS.

    • Ryan Parrish

      If you already have Windows 8, 8.1 will be a free update. And if you don’t already I suspect the prices will be the same – $119, or $199 for Pro.

  • panacheart

    Why on earth did they hire color blind UI designers?

    • AmFuzzy

      Please enlighten us with your color design philosophy. Did you know that in the design world Microsoft has won numerous awards an accolades for the Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 design?

  • Sergio

    Good news

  • daisydog555

    I have been using the 8.1 release preview for a while now. I just changed it yesterday to boot directly to the desktop interface- Why? Out of spite primarily. In 8.1 I still cannot right mouse click and select “print” on a photo– the interface is all pretty– but you still end up having to open the pictures folder from the desktop interface just to print a picture.

    The “start button” on the desk: If you left mouse click on it- it takes you to the win8 interface– right mouse click, and you do get some nice short cuts to things you may use a lot– like the control panel and the “run” command…

    Now I got my wife a computer with a touch screen, figuring “Boy howdy! Is this gonna make things simple for her!!!” Uh, no. Turns out she doesn’t like seeing finger prints on the screen! What’s the whole point of that? I still think the overwhelming majority of win8 users will continue to use their mouse while on a home pc…. There is a frustration when trying to get the charms menu to appear while using a mouse….

    ONE BIG ISSUE: Microsoft Flight Sim X does not work in 8.1… I have scoured many web sites, and no one (except for one “microsoft engineer” who says to run it in compatibility mode) can get it to work in 8.1….

    I sure hope they take care of the compatibility issues, and the interface issues before consumers get their hands on the full version– otherwise Microsoft is gonna have some ‘splainin’ to do….

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