Windows 8 Upgrade Ready
August 27, 2013

Microsoft Says Windows 8 Update Is Ready To Roll

Peter Suciu for – Your Universe Online

On Tuesday Microsoft announced that its Windows 8.1 update is ready for computer and tablet makers, and announced that the latest update has officially been “released to manufacturing” (RTM). In essence this means that new PCs this holiday season can be sold with the updated OS.

“We’ve hit an important milestone for Windows and for Microsoft — just 10 months after delivering on a bold, generational change in computing with Windows 8, our team is proud to share that we have started releasing Windows 8.1 and Windows RT 8.1 to our hardware partners,” noted Antoine Leblond, corporate vice president for the Windows Program Management,  in a blog post.

“In many ways, this marks a new day at Microsoft, reflecting a number of rapid release firsts. Thanks, in part, to customer feedback and an unparalleled level of collaboration across product teams, Windows 8.1 is a significant update. We have delivered in a very short time an update to the OS that will bring an even greater unified experience for our customers.”

Windows 8.1 will be released to the public on October 17, and current Windows 8 users will be able to download and install the operating system’s second version at that time. New Windows 8.1-powered devices - as well as the update itself - will arrive for retail a day later on October 18.

Whereas previous updates have included updates dubbed “service packs,” Microsoft has added numerous new features and functions to Windows 8.1 in an attempt to make the OS more compatible with conventional desktop and notebook PCs.

Windows 8.1 is the first major update to the Windows 8 operating system, which was released last October. The 8.1 update has been in preview since June. This update is further notable in that it “returned” several standard Windows features, including the traditional Start Button – something that had been discontinued in Windows 8, much to the chagrin of millions of users – as well as the boot-to-desktop functionality.

However, while the RTM milestone may sound as if the OS is finished, this technically is not the case. As Leblond noted: "In the past, the release to manufacturing (RTM) milestone traditionally meant that the software was ready for broader customer use. However, it's clear that times have changed, with shifts to greater mobility and touch as well as the blurring of work and personal lives. As such, we've had to evolve the way we develop and the time in which we deliver to meet customers with the experience they need, want and expect. We've had to work closer to our hardware partners than ever before."

Leblond further noted that Microsoft is still working on Windows 8.1.

“While our partners are preparing these exciting new devices we will continue to work closely with them as we put the finishing touches on Windows 8.1 to ensure a quality experience at general availability on October 18th,” he wrote.

This will mean that MSDN (Microsoft Developer Network) and TechNet subscribers may not get early access to Windows 8.1 Computer World reported. In the past this early access had helped developers get an early jump on the final testing of applications, while also giving IT professionals extra time to evaluate the OS to help decide whether it was right for their respective companies.

In addition to the restored Start Button and boot-to-desktop functionality, updates to Windows 8.1 reportedly include more personalization, Internet Explorer 11, search powered by Bing, more built-in apps, enhanced Windows Store functionality, and built-in cloud connectivity with SkyDrive.

Windows 8.1 will be free for existing Windows 8 users, but Microsoft has not yet announced the retail price for those wanting to upgrade from previous versions of Windows.