For the first time publicly, Microsoft officials are acknowledging that the company is working on an update to Windows 8.1 that will be out this spring.
While we Microsoft watchers have been writing about the so-called Windows 8.1 Update 1 for months, and builds of the update have been leaking for weeks, February 23 was the first time that Microsoft execs officially commented on the coming release.
At Microsoft's press event at the Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona, Microsoft went public with some of the already-known features coming in the update that is meant to improve Windows 8.1's usability and acceptance by mouse/keyboard users.
Officials discussed 8.1 update tweaks, such as inclusion of a title bar at the top of Modern/Windows Store apps, and the addition of power and search buttons on the Start Screen, according to a report by The Verge's Tom Warren, who attended the Microsoft event. Officials also acknowledged the smaller footprint (1 GB of RAM; 16 GB of storage) of the update, which will enable device makers to put Windows 8.1 with the update on smaller, cheaper tablets. Microsoft also is reportedly planning to offer PC makers a price cut on Windows 8.1 on machines costing $250 or less to entice OEMs to get cheaper Windows 8.1 devices to market.
AnandTech (also attending the event) noted that Microsoft execs also acknowledged Windows 8.1 Update 1 will include IE8 compatibility mode in IE11 -- previously reported as IE11 Enterprise Mode.
Microsoft officials didn't provide a specific timeframe as to when the spring update will be available, but my sources previously have said the target release date will be April 8, with Microsoft delivering it via Windows Update to existing Windows 8.x users.
Update: The Windows Server team is also confirming it will deliver a minor update to Windows Server 2012 R2 that will hit alongside the Windows 8.1 Update 1 release "this spring." The server-side update will include "minor UI enhancements and bug fixes, as well as previously-released monthly update rollups and security fixes," officials said. Microsoft will be working to make sure existing Windows Server apps, from both Microsoft and third party developers, "just work" with the update. More details on the server-side update will be provided at a future date, officials said.