Microsoft has confirmed that Windows 8.1 will be generally available to consumers from October 18th via retail, boxed copies, and new hardware, and to current Windows 8 owners a day earlier, through the Windows Store.
The Release to Manufacturing (RTM) version of Windows 8.1 is expected to be made available to PC makers and Microsoft’s hardware partners in the coming weeks, and a number of updates will be released to patch and update the OS before the final version is launched. As with the service pack updates of the pre-Windows 8 era, Windows 8.1 will be a free upgrade for current owners.
Windows 8.1 will be bringing back the Start button that people have been clamoring for (though the classic Start menu won’t be included), and also add proper tutorials to get new users acquainted with the OS. Other changes include improvements to multitasking and personalization, a boot to dekstop option, Internet Explorer 11, better search, updates to inbuilt Modern UI apps including a few new ones, replacement of the Messaging app with Skype, and more.
The Windows 8.1 Preview has already given us a glimpse of some of the new features and changes, and come October, we’ll finally see some of the major complaints addressed in Microsoft’s touch-focused version of Windows. Will it persuade the anti-Windows 8 crowd to upgrade? Probably not, but for everyone else, Windows 8.1 is looking to be a very nice update.