Microsoft: Windows 8.1 will ship in August, in time for ‘many’ holiday devices

Windows81PreviewSta_01_PageMicrosoft says it will ship Windows 8.1 to PC and device makers in late August — in time for the update to make it onto “many” new PCs and tablets for the upcoming holiday season.

Tami Reller, the Windows finance and marketing chief, announced the news this morning at the company’s Worldwide Partner Conference in Houston. Microsoft released a preview of the Windows 8.1 update two weeks ago, including new features designed to make the operating system work more smoothly on traditional desktop computers.

Microsoft is counting on the update to make longtime Windows users more comfortable upgrading to the overhauled operating system. Changes include the return of a Start button on the traditional 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.

Among other demos today, Microsoft showed how companies including Amazon are adapting their apps to work in portrait mode on smaller devices now supported by Windows 8, particularly on smaller screens such as an 8-inch tablet.

The webcast from the Worldwide Partner Conference is continuing here.

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

  • Guest

    Still don’t understand why basic changes like bringing back the start button, boot to desktop, and custom wallpaper in Metro weren’t offered within weeks or months of launch. Third parties did it in weeks. Why couldn’t MS? There’s quite a bit more in 8.1, but much of that is focused on devs and isn’t going to be as immediately obvious to users. At least Ballmer learned something from last year’s big fail of promising partners fy12 would be the most epic year in MS’s history. All up you really get a sense from WPC of a still combative but vastly diminished MS.

    • Mark

      Even worse, most of those changes were recommended by users during the road to RTM. I personally submitted a screen shot showing the Metro menu flying out from the left instead of taking you away from the desktop. MS simply ignored the feedback. A year later, after adoption has been relatively poor, they finally act on these. But now they talk about how innovative it is and want credit for it. Sad.

    • munchy22

      yes puting a start buton back(yeh right) that actually only takes you to the metro window. Incidently puting uor mouse in prety much the same area now brings up the metro menu, in my opinion is a company that just keeps wanting the public to fall out with them.

      I like windows 8 and i like metro but if we have a desktop give it back to us. Leave ther brilliant metro for tablets and phones plse.

      Lets face it in 2 years you alienated alot of customers by removing the desent start menu. You then followed that with a attempt to restrict gamers gaming on your xbox one, Do you seriously want to slap your customers in the face so shortly after these events, with your ” hey look a buton that we call your start menu but it only takes you to metro just like it kinda does now. Plse microsoft i am a big fan but im begining to be disalusioned with you now, Just rip out metro and give us the deak top back for desk tops, Stick metro in the program menu and let us decide if we use it or not.(i certainly would use it.

  • Guest

    And nobody outside MS cared…

  • Bernie

    i really cannot see why people have a problem using Windows 8. I use it on PC , laptop, tablet and phone. Sure it was a learning curve but not a very steep one. Maybe we should all go back to DOS?

    • Guest

      Many people simply dislike the Metro design altogether, they are just being polite in that they provide a bunch of other reasons why W8 doesn’t work for them. It’s a very polarizing OS, sure some may like the minimalist design and no frills, but others just hate it with a passion. The learning curve is not an issue if learning means improving, but what really has improved in Windows 8 that people just can’t live without? To them it resembles a step back to Windows 3.1, so in that regard you may be on to something about going back to DOS. Maybe Windows 9 will try to sell us that everything’s better and faster in command line mode.

      • Paul

        Yet it’s reminiscent of the design that powers much of the web, and we’re seeing major elements of it being embraced in Android and more recently iOS7, where it as hailed as revolutionary. So maybe it’s more about ppl not liking change when it’s on something they know, Windows, combined with the vocal minority of MS haters out there who live to trash anything MS-related. Sound like anyone you know?

        Oh, and there are lots of improvements in W8 besides the addition of Metro. Security, performance, boot speed, battery life, are obvious examples. Sounds like you have a very rudimentary understanding of the product, if any. Can existing users live without some or all of those new features depending on their needs? Sure, just like some still run XP, Win2K, etc. Does that mean MS was wrong to re-architect the OS for the touch/mobile world it wasn’t originally designed for? Of course not. Did they get everything right? No, far from it. And arriving three years after iPad and Android had solidified their leads in tablets didn’t help.

        • Guest

          So you read my question correctly and then choose to misinterpret it anyway? None of your aforementioned modest improvements are even remotely critical to someone running Windows 7 on a desktop. Why does that notion translate to me having a rudimentary understanding of W8, just because I think that none of it is worth spending $$$ on an upgrade?

          Also, stating that Android and more recently iOS7 embraced major elements of Windows 8 is greatly distorting reality. You really think the GUIs of Android tablets or iPads look just like Surface tablets? Of course not. As for design elements, Google championed flat minimalist design long before Microsoft, they just didn’t go to the same extremes regarding the user interface. Apple went a bit too skeuomorphic in the past and now they are paddeling a tiny bit back. Not exactly a W8 clone now is it. If any of them ever abandon their current GUIs and start implementing tiles you will have a point.

          Continuing to blame the underwhelming success of W8 on evil bloggers and Apple fanbois only worsens the situation. Sometimes it’s less painful to quickly revert to Classic Coke.

          • Paul

            Performance, vastly better security, fast boot are “modest” improvements not even remotely critical to a desktop user? What color is the sky on your planet?

            And yes, both Android and especially iOS7 borrow heavily from Metro concepts:

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lbwjXjw1ETg

            “Apple went a bit too skeuomorphic in the past and now they are paddeling a tiny bit back. ”
            LOL. Only a complete Apple apologist and shill could write than line with a straight face.
            I didn’t blame the “underwhelming success” of W8 on evil bloggers or Apple fanbois. Indeed the first cause I listed was user resistance to change in what they know. But noise from trolls and h8trs didn’t help, nor did arriving three years late to the market, as I also pointed out. However, let’s put that “underwhelming success” in perspective. It’s already sold 100M copies and surpassed OS X and Vista in total market share. Not terrible for a product that’s only been available for less than a year.

          • Guest

            100M copies but only 5% W8 market share. So there must be over 2 billion PC’s out there, right. Whatever you want to believe.

      • munchy22

        sorry guest but your wrong to say its ot the learning curve thats the problem and blame interface, cause all every single complaint i get from friends family and work colleges is the same, and that is its brilliant on the phone and tablet and those same people when they first tried windows alot of them did it on desk top, they all found it too hard to learn and use. Probably cause not many people have a touch screen on the desktop and to be fair were years away from a desktop chance to desk top if any. Lets face it thats what tablets are for

        • Guest

          So people agree that Metro is “brilliant on the phone and tablet”, yet they don’t seem to buy either. So why don’t they put their money where their mouth is? Maybe they are just being polite after all.

    • munchy22

      truthly i do like metro and use it alot i kinda love it, but most people dont, and if microsoft wana stay in business they have to cater for the majority of their customers and bernie thats not you and me matey,ut i do agree its exellent.But now after so many microsoft disasters in terms of public relatioons they need to give people what they want. Thats just good business. (i also miss my old start buton why cant we have both)

  • daisydog555

    I’ve been using 8.1 (the early release version), and yeah, some of it’s kinda nice. I still can’t right mouse click on a photo to print it. Gotta go back to the old school desktop. Still can’t get my Flightsimx to work with win 8.1.

    One of the features is making the tiles “larger”– a great idea- except you are still really limited in how big you can make it.

    The store looks really pretty in win 8.1

    Wish I would have read a bit closer: Once installed 8.1 cannot be uninstalled.