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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]

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