Microsoft forges ahead toward Windows 8.1 Update 1

Microsoft forges ahead toward Windows 8.1 Update 1

Summary: An expected update to Microsoft's Windows 8.1 operating system is looking like it's going to make its projected 'spring' deadline.


New screen shots shared by Windows leaker "WZor" on January 8 indicate Microsoft's progress on an update to Windows 8.1 due out this spring.


Back in October 2013, I blogged about the coming Windows 8.1 Update 1 release -- an updated version of the Windows 8.1 operating system. According to my contacts, Microsoft is/was planning to deliver this update around the time it releases its Windows Phone 8.1 "Blue" operating system release. The goal of Windows 8.1 Update 1 is to bring the PC/tablet and phone operating system platforms into closer alignment, from a programming interface standpoint.

WZor's new screen shots don't show any new features and he has not shared any leaked Update 1 bits at this point. He says that Microsoft's "golden" OEM partners will be getting confidential test builds later this month. It sounds as if no public preview is planned for the Update 1 release.

WZor's accompanying blog post (translated from Russian) indicates that Microsoft is planning to release to manufacturing (RTM) Update 1 in March and make it publicly available as of April 2014 as a free upgrade for all Windows 8.1 users via Windows Update. He also claims that MSDN and Microsoft volume licensees also will get the RTM bits by late March or early April.

Not so coincidentally, Microsoft's Build 2014 developer conference is set for April 2 to 4 in San Francisco.

It's still unclear whether Windows 8.1 Update 1 will include tweaks to the user interface of Windows 8.1, including the return of some kind of "mini" Start Menu or whether Microsoft will introduce a new Start Menu at some future point. My sources have indicated that the Windows team is looking for ways to make Windows 8.1 friendlier for mouse and keyboard users (huzzah!) and that the return of some kind of Start Menu, along with the already introduced new Start Button, is in the cards. I'd be surprised if the Start Menu is part of Windows 8.1 Update 1, however.

It's also not clear to me (yet) whether there will be additional Windows 8.1 update builds delivered throughout 2014. The Windows team is working on a new version of Windows, codenamed "Threshold," which is expected to debut around the spring of 2015, according to my contacts. Threshold may ultimately be christened "Windows 9," some have suggested. But I'm wondering if there might be Updates 2, 3 and/or 4 to Windows 8.1 on the roadmap....

Microsoft officials are not commenting on any operating-system futures, in case anyone was wondering.

Topics: Windows 8, Microsoft, Windows Phone


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • You can almost hear the ambivalence rising

    Let me get this straight: about 90% of computer users have rejected Win8 so instead of supporting a favored OS, M$ throws engineering time at the most rejected OS they have ever produced?
    • You nailed it

      The average user, the one who likely doesn't even know what an OS is and likely sticks with whatever is on there at that point in time, has rejected Windows 8. It has nothing to do with Windows always relying on people buying a new computer. It is all about how the average user has rejected something that they likely don't even know about.

      Makes perfect sense to me.
      Michael Alan Goff
      • There are apparently more Win 8 - 8.1 users than there are Mac users . . .

        So I wouldn't exactly call it "failed." It does work best with a touchscreen.

        I hated it before I got it, and then I learned that it was pretty nifty after all - though there really is a need for Office to go Metro (or "Modern" - whatever they're calling the flat affect interface), as I hate having to dump into the "desktop" mode for so many things.
        • I missed my sarcasm tag

          I guess I must be too good at my sarcasm if I just got a response.
          Michael Alan Goff
          • Sarcasm was Missed

            Probably because you made a good point. Add "most people do not know what a operating system is" to "more Windows user than Mac" and you can see why the original post was that of a troll.

            By the way. I think the Metro interface makes a great start menu. I have my computer boot to the desk top and only use Metro as a start menu. I never liked the way that things kept changing places in the pre-8 start menus. I like the way things stay where you put them and the larger more graphical buttons.
        • Not a particularly relevant point

          Macs are only available from a single computer maker. Windows OEMs number in the hundreds.
          • Not a relevant point, again

            Windows 8s aren't selling more than Macs because Macs have limited production. Production meets demand, so there isn't demand for the Macs. If Apple thought they could make more money by opening the MAC OS up to other manufacturers they would, but they don't because there isn't demand for it.
          • Apple experimented with clones in the 1990's...

            ..what ended up happening was the total demand for Mac OS systems remained flat while the clone makers ate into Apple's sales.
        • Liking Win 8 - and want MS to give us both Metro and Desktop separation

          Liked Win 8 as a great improvement to Win 7 under the covers. Yes, missed start menu on desktop, but liked switching to metro for fun, surfing, non-pc type stuff. put it on a few PCs (desktop, laptops) and enjoyed to dual option that I gave yup on my android and blackberry tablets and bought the Surface RT. Agree with the post that, the more I use it I would like if the other Office apps could just run in metro, particularly Outlook - I have a few pop email accounts and Outlook is great, but it is a challenge in desktop mode and could be better as a metro/tablet app. Onenote does this very well and I can flip back and forth from desktop app to metro app, in the same file when you have it saved/linked in Skydrive. There are a lot of hidden gems in Win 8, both as a completely rebuilt traditional Windows desktop o/s (boot time, tools, resource manager/management, file history, incorporation of Win Home Server storage file server, + + +_) and as the tablet interface of metro. MS should give people the option to pick a "mode", like the old "classic" and get back your Win7/xp/2000 start menus and boot to desktop (with gadgets too - I miss those), or completely Metro (like Win 8 initially came out), and customizable so you can get a Win 8.1 like hybrid. That way, the whiners can pick classic and not even know metro exists, and the rest of us can move to the future. Oh yes, and fyi - people getting hybrids that boot to Win 8 or Android - seems pointless - if you are docked you can boot too desktop mode, and if undocked, boot to metro - and still have the same O/S underneath. So, while some people are trying to brand Win 8 a failure I think just haven't tried it - or, I get it, at some point you stop buying new music and just stick to the now-oldies that you grew up with. To each his own, I guess.
          • RE:

            Move into the future?
          • My Win8 looks like Win7 & I don't see the need for Metro apps or MS account

            A year ago I got a Windows 8 Pro DVD (from Action Pack). At first, I was reluctant to install it. After the arriving of Win 8.1 and a brand new SSD (to replace my HDD) I decided to give it a try. Well, at first it was awful but then I installed Classic Shell and, voila, just like Win 7. The included driver printer was very limited but I installed the Win 7 driver instead with no problems. I even have gadgets (I know they could be a security risk but I took precautions) and themes. The only thing incompatible was the ASUS Suite II (no Suite III for my MB) but I found replacements for monitoring my system. The system boots quicker (I know the SSD helps). Until now, no regrets. But just in case, I left the old installation of Win 7 in the previous HDD. Just with the press of F8 I can select the booting device. By the way, it was said that Win 8.1 would encrypt the drive by default (something I don't want) but it didn't happen to me. I guess it was because I first installed Win 8 (the DVD of Win 8.1 refused to install) and later updated to Win 8.1. To you Win 8 advocates that call the others 'retrogrades' or the like I tell that there are people who like to customize the interface and/or want know what is happening under the hood. The Metro interface is plain and is like a car without gauges.
            Hector Roman
          • Windows 8 is only good after u customize back to Windows 7

            You gotta uninstall all 'apps' like Reader.. and install Adobe Acrobat Reader. Thats after you switch the Shell to Classic...
            The Super User will have fun and customize.
          • but you shouldnt have to customize this greatly

            but you shouldn't have to customize this greatly
      • The average user has not rejected Windows 8 ...

        ... as evidenced by the fact that retailers are not stocking PC's with Windows 7 pre-installed. Further, I have yet to see any copies of Windows 7 sitting on retailers shelves. You want Windows 7, you can buy it on-line. You want Windows 7 PC's? You can buy those on-line too!

        Oh, and Windows XP penetration is now below 20%.
        M Wagner
        • There are NO Windows 7 systems offered...............

          Due to the fact Micdosoft has stopped the manufactures from this O/S.

          And as a result we (115 user) have rejected Microsoft, we are NO longer a Microsoft house GOODBYE Microsoft.
          • goodbye MS

            you're funny guy
            Koko Bill
          • googbye MS

            Well maybe Windows 9 will use the Linux kernel, ya ever consider that? Then it won't be goodbye. I wouldn't count MS out just yet. They see the same writing on the wall as you do, and they're not stupid. If they have any sense at all, which they do, the next version of Windows, Threshold or Windows 9, whatever it's called, will use the Linux kernel. You think they're gonna watch their market share continue to slide into oblivion? No. They'll switch. Count on it.
          • so you got rid of all you windows 7 machines

            because ms doesn't make windows 7 anymore?

            did you replaced them all with android?
          • oh

            can I have your stuff?

        • XP penetration is over 50%, but the stats you see are only of online use

          Honestly, M Wagner, have you no contact with the real world? If you did, you'd know that, for example, even IRS is only just now reluctantly porting some of what it does to Windows 7. So what does that tell you?

          Windows 7 is needed for internetting. So the internet stats show more Windows 7 and that only recently. But that doesn't tell you the deployment of XP off-internet.

          A telling number is the fact that you cannot find XP machines coming off-lease at Dell. Win7 machines are being turned in by the hundreds, but not XP and not much Vista, either. The Win7 off-lease machines are about 4:1. I've been trying to buy an off-lease XP Latitude or Precision laptop at or for over a year. Every once in a while ONE of those machines comes in, and by the time I've noticed it, it's GONE. 10 minutes, maybe 15, and it sells. What does that tell you?

          Had the same problem when trying to buy a decent XP machine (lots of RAM and Xeon processor, Precision tower) in Amazon. Thought I finally snagged one, queried the seller about the specs but poof! It was gone the next day. I shouldn't have waited.

          What you also cannot find easily, are 32-bit Win7s in new laptops. Dell ran out of them in delloutlet. Can't get them new, in any decent configuration. I got the last one just before Christmas. What does that tell you?

          It SHOULD tell you that older software is still in use, and that's why it's hard to find an XP or a 32-bit Win7 machine. Lots of 64-bits are coming off-lease, and lots of 64-bits are on sale in (now with a coupon for 30% off, code were sent in emails this morning). Since it's hard to use older software with 64-bit (the XP mode is something of a farce), you should glean from these facts that indeed XP is being HOARDED.