Microsoft's Windows 8.1 Update 1: Rumored release target is March 11

Microsoft's Windows 8.1 Update 1: Rumored release target is March 11

Summary: Windows 8.1 Update 1 may be headed for a March 2014 release and could include some under-the-hood changes to reduce memory and disk space requirements for cheaper tablets.


There's nothing like ending the week with a few fresh Windows rumors.


First up, the target release date for Windows 8.1 Update 1 -- the relatively minor update coming to Windows 8.1 this spring -- is allegedly March 11, according to one of my accurate and trusted sources. Yes, that's a Patch Tuesday. Given that Microsoft will likely deliver Update 1 to Windows 8.1 users via Windows Update, this seems pretty believable to me.

Windows leaker WZor previously indicated that Windows 8.1 Update 1 would likely be released to manufacturing in March, but didn't provide a specific date.

One more tidbit about Windows 8.1 Update 1 from my aforementioned source: Update 1 may feature some of the work that Microsoft has been doing behind the scenes to reduce further the memory and disk space requirements for Windows. This would allow Windows 8.1 Update 1 to run on cheaper small tablets.

Windows 8.1 Update 1, screen shots of which leaked earlier this week, is expected to allow users to pin Metro-style/Windows Store apps to their desktop task bars. Thumbnail previews of these Metro-style apps will be available from the Desktop task bar, according to additional screen shots. Windows 8.1 Update 1 also is expected to include close boxes for Metro-style apps

If Microsoft does hit the March 11 date with Windows 8.1 Update 1, that release will hit just a few weeks before the Windows Phone 8.1 operating system supposedly will. Rumors have indicated that Windows Phone 8.1 (a k a "Blue") will RTM just prior to the kick off of Microsoft's Build 2014 conference, which starts April 2. From what I've heard, Windows Phone 8.1 won't be available to consumers until later this April, at the earliest, though developers will likely have access to the bits sooner than that.

Even though the arrival dates for Windows 8.1 Update 1 and Windows Phone 8.1 are relatively close, it's now sounding from my sources that there won't be application programming interface (API) changes made to Windows 8.1 Update 1 to bring it into closer alignment with Windows Phone 8.1. Instead, Windows 8.1 Update 1 will be focused primarily on making Windows 8.1 more useful to business users. 

I'm still not hearing that the new expected "mini" Start menu will arrive with Windows 8.1 Update; instead, I'm thinking it's likely to show up some time in the next 12 months, either as part of a second Windows 8.1 update or not until Windows "Threshold," which is believed to be targeted to arrive in April 2015.

Speaking of Threshold, unsurprisingly, there seems to be a Threshold server release in the works that will line up with the Threshold client release. Given Windows client and server share the same core and UI, this seems believable. I haven't yet heard anything about potential new features in Theshold Server -- which may end up named Windows Server 2015, if the Softies stick with current naming conventions.

Anyone else hearing more on Threshold Server or have any new features you're hoping are included?

Update (January 25): More WZor screen shot leaks of Windows 8.1 Update 1 show off more features expected to be part of Update 1. New additions include: Separate, dedicated power and search buttons on the home screen, plus right-click context menus for mouse users.

Topics: Windows 8, Microsoft, Tablets, Windows


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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  • Oh Joy, Windows 8.1 Update 1 is becoming more "tablified" for the chimps

    Wonderful, real wonderful. *sigh* For a brief moment in time I thought Windows 9 might be something I am interested in. Something I would *want* to install on my desktop computer. Unlike Windows 8 which I have kept away from my desktop like a sick neighbor with the swine flu virus.
    What about Windows 9 for Desktop users...Where is the news on that? My hope for Windows 9 is quickly disappearing into the sands of time.
    • Ignoramus

      • The Up-Vote Bot is here again...

        It up-votes anything that goes against Microsoft, and flags the positive comments.

        That's pathetic.

        It's worse than shilling, and it needlessly alerts the moderators.

        I thought the ABMers were better than that, but I guess not.
    • Lets analyse your argument

      What is the difference between Windows 8.1 and Windows 7? 1. Charms, they can be hidden. 2. Start button, they both have one, 3. Boot to desktop, they can both do that. 4. Start menu, is returning soon. So basically there is no difference between Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 once you get your start menu back is there? You are complaining about an alternative interface you can ignore. The Filing system in windows 8 desktop is superior to Windows 7 so it seems your attitude and boycott of Windows 8.1 makes no sense and you are actually using an inferior system.
      • You nuts!

        Simon68: there is no START MENU, just a Start button that takes you back to the ugly Windows 3.1 wanna-be screen!

        The ONLY way to save Windows is for Windows 9 to go back to the layout of Windows 7!
        • It ain't gonna happen!

          Windows 8.1 is very easy to configure for Desktop-only service and Microsoft has too much invested in the consumer tablet space to reverse itself now and give up the consumer space to the likes of Android.
          M Wagner
          • Microsoft doesn't have to give anything up

            They simply have to realize that they have two different groups of consumers that they need to address separately. Both groups need to be acknowledged. If they want to complete alienate the business/enterprise sector by continuing to pretend there isn't a problem with Windows 8 than they can continue to stick their head in the sand, and continue catering to the lowest common denominator(that being tablet users) at their own peril. If they thought people stayed on Windows XP for a long time? LOL. You ain't seen anything yet when it comes to Windows 7.

            My new stance towards Microsoft. "Windows 7 Ultimate to the death...or until Microsoft comes out of their coma".

            Continue to give business/enterprise/traditional users of Windows the middle finger and your Windows sales numbers will continue to reflect that you are doing so.

            When does Windows 7 support end again....2020? Cool. I won't be going anywhere for awhile.
          • Microsoft doesn't have to give anything up

            Hear Hear!!!
        • there is no START MENU, just a Start button that takes you back to the ugl

          Take a deep breath and right-click it.
          • ..and right-click it.

            I just installed TrueImage 2013, rt-clicked on the "start button" - wheres my program's link? It did create an ugly, large, square 'short cut' on that other screen. But I try to visit that screen as infrequently as possible. Question: When I install a program from the desktop, why the heck does M$ assume I want to execute from the kiddie blocks screen?
        • Simon68 clearly said "once you get your start menu back"

          Not sure why you are yelling at him, because his point is valid.

          Windows8.1 gives users all the desktop features of Windows7, except the start menu... which is rumored to be coming back in some more functional form.

          I'm not sure why MS didn't do this from the beginning of Windows8. Treat the metro UI as an additional area for Windows, like they have with most changes in previous versions of windows. Users would eventually learn to use the new features at their own pace.

          I prefer the start menu once I got used to it, so I hope MS leaves both options open for users.
          • Really?

            Check a Windows 7 Ultimate installation, and tell us all about how everything that is there is found in Windows 8.x...

            If you can find a parity of features, you're hallucinating.
          • One Example of Feature Missing from Windows 8

            Clear font rendering, especially in IE11 and Office 2013.

            IE10 and Office 2010 display perfectly clear text on Windows 7.
            On the same PC, IE11 and Office 2013 are so blurry on Windows 8, they are unusable.
          • Love the clueless Win 8.1 lemmings.

            Where are my desktop gadgets in Win 8.1? I don't want to have to switch UIs to see the weather, CPU usage, Network usage, headlines, earthquake reports, or whatever else I have along the edge of the desktop on my third monitor.

            Where is the Aero interface? Where is the full Start Menu? (not a mini scaled down psuedo version that lacks half of the features) I don't want to switch to a tablet UI in order to use basic system functions.

            There are numerous very useful things missing from Windows 8.1. They're still missing in update 1. Just because you don't notice them, doesn't mean the rest of us don't notice them. I still see no reason to stop using Windows 7 on my desktop systems, which is still a superior desktop user interface.

            Windows 8.1 has it's place. That's on tablets. It is still has an inferior desktop computer interface.
          • Gadgets Discontinued

            Windows 7 gadgets have been discontinued because they allowed easy access to users systems, which puts a large hole in your rant.
          • They could have fixed it

            I loved my Gadgets, I pretty sure they could have fixed it. In Windows 7 my Gadgets are still running fine and my system is not compromised.

            That is the thing I miss the most from Windows 7.
          • Press Windows key?

            Press Windows key: weather, news, etc. Press windows key again: desktop. Or else, seeing as you have three monitors, assign one of them to your Start Screen and use the rest as desktop. OR, learn to use Samurize, Rainmeter or Yahoo Widgets and you can have all those stats (and more) on your desktop in quite literally any shape, colour or form you could possibly desire.
          • Advance

          • Not the same

            Gadgets were there on the same screen, no action needed to see them except move the eyeballs a little bit. Seeing CPU and Network usage with CPU Meter and Network Meter gadgets was my favorite. It's fun to know what's happening when the system slows down (ah, it's doing heavy CPU work, that's why) without having to start the Task Manager.
          • Love the clueless Win 8.1 haters

            >desktop gadgets
            Discontinued by Microsoft.

            >Aero interface
            tl;dr Aero (the hardware accelerated GUI system) is still there, the Windows 7 theme isn't.

            >Where is the full Start Menu
            Irrelevant. That thing was outdated a long time ago, and too impractical to be of any real use.
            If you aren't using Launchy or the windows search feature to launch programs, you're doing it wrong - or at least in a highly inefficient way.
            You can still use the search in Windows 8 or 8.1 the same way as in 7, by pressing the Windows key or Win+Q and typing.

            >There are numerous very useful things missing from Windows 8.1
            Which are...?