Windows 8.1 to launch in October

Windows 8.1 to launch in October

Summary: Microsoft announced today that it will make the Windows 8.1 update generally available to consumers in mid-October, roughly a year after the release of Windows 8. Today's announcement didn't offer any clues about when developers and enterprise customers can get the code, however.

TOPICS: Windows 8, Microsoft

Microsoft today confirmed what had been widely rumored for the past week: Windows 8.1 will be released to the general public in October. Specifically, "starting at 12:00am on October 18th in New Zealand (that’s 4:00am October 17th in Redmond), Windows 8.1 will begin rolling out worldwide as a free update for consumers on Windows 8 through the Windows Store."

Today's announcement indirectly confirms what my sources have also told me, which is that Windows 8.1 has been officially is in escrow, awaiting the final, formal designation that it's been released to manufacturing.

Update: A Microsoft spokesperson says Windows 8.1 has not yet been released to manufacturing. “Development of Windows 8.1 continues to be on track, and we expect to reach the RTM milestone and release Windows to our OEM partners in late August.”

In Microsoft’s partner-driven world, that’s an important milestone. It means the code is on its way to OEMs, who in turn can incorporate it into new hardware designs for shipment this fall. After a year of generally miserable Windows 8 sales, those OEMs could use some good news to drive holiday sales.

The most visible change in Windows 8.1 is the addition of a "boot to desktop" option, as well as significant changes to the Start screen and support for smaller form factors. (For A full list of changes, see "Windows 8.1 unveiled: will it change your mind about Windows 8?")

Customers, though, are going to have to wait.

Why the lengthy delay (more than two months) between this milestone and General Availability? I’ve heard some conspiracy theories suggesting that this isn’t the real release and that Microsoft is still furiously swatting bugs between now and an October public release.

The actual reasons, I suspect, are more mundane:

First, hardware makers need time to tweak drivers and utilities for existing devices so that the upgrade process goes more smoothly. That’s crucial for devices that require firmware upgrades to work properly with the new code. On the Windows 8.1 Preview forums, I've read page after page of reports from frustrated Preview users who had either failed upgrades or problems with incompatible devices. OEMs can’t afford widespread issues for customers getting released code.

Second, Microsoft still has work to do on its first-party Windows 8 apps, especially the unified Windows communication suite that incorporates the Mail, People, and Calendar apps.

And finally, those few extra months allow time for some high-profile third-party developers to get on board with Windows 8 apps. Facebook, for example, is still missing in action on the platform.

There will also, of course, be fixes for the official Windows 8.1 code between now and October, released via Windows Update. But the update itself is locked down.

There's no indication in today's consumer announcement of when the Windows 8.1 code will be available for developers on MSDN, nor when the Enterprise edition will be available for general release. I've asked Microsoft for comment and will update this post when I hear back. Update: Microsoft declined to comment on either of these questions.

Topics: Windows 8, Microsoft

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  • My body is ready...

    Can't wait!
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • Such negative posts follow for a good article by Mr Bott asgain.

      I have Windows 8 Pro on one desktop, win 8 regular on one tablet and one tablet Ultrabook hybrid. I also have two Windows 7 Desktops here, my old main unit now here in the spare BR, and my new main 8 Pro unit.

      All the posters think they are coming up with new troll-like comments and none of them are. In fact if we go back to 2002 and read the user comments on the new Windows XP, we see the same comments, put the same way, by others 12 years ago. And ten years from now we will see the same for Windows hologram edition. (My hands are touching dead people!)

      Here is a set of consumers griping about XZP online in 2002. I could even put some of the names of regulars today to those griping about how much they hated XP the year after it was released and pined for the good old windows 98 and 2000!

      Just for fun go read this link and see if you are one of them today and sound the same.

      Gripes when Windows XP was about the same age as Windows 8 is now.
      • Not to burst your bubble..

        but these are technical gripes. It has happened with every OS because, well Microsoft. I don't see any gripes about the user interface though. Most of the Windows 8 complaints are, user interface problems;
    • +1 for the Fils-Aime reference

  • Just Plain Dumb

    To a relatively lazy consumer market, and most tech journalists who sift every item of Microsoft's dirty laundry for a clue to the end of Microsoft, this is just more food for the madness. Why a 2 1/2 month delay between "we're finished" and "now you can have it" cannot be explained in our 10 second/140 word culture, so it becomes more evidence of Windows 8 general failure. Indeed, it just plan looks bad, which Microsoft can ill afford. Either it is ready or it is not, regardless whether it is driver/bios/hardware tweaking or not. It could be just as likely as that the Surface RT 2 and Pro 2 are not ready yet, and we can't have others jumping to the lead without us.
    • no one said

      "we're finished." 8.1 is at a stage where it can be released to manufacturers, now it goes to the OEMs, OEMs assign them to specific products, OEM manufactures them in well-calculated quantities, OEM and retailer talks, retailer orders well-calculated/estimated quantity, OEM ships the ordered product, products come across the ocean (yea they are mostly made in Asia) to most major markets, all markets are aligned and ready, then release. 2 month is pretty reasonable for all this to happen.
      • Wow, here's someone who actually knows something other than "it sucks".

        Remarkable that anyone who actually knows something about major software product release times would actually post a reply to the remarkably unknowledgeable people who post here.......this is a "stupid consumer" publication, not a professional publication......
        Michael Bradley
      • what product?

        It's software. If Microsoft is having this shipped out of Asia, We're doomed. I have no interest in new hardware from Asia. IF I were to get this horrible thing, I'd expect to download it or get floppies from Redmond so I can load it on my current computer. Instead, I'll just run my brand new Linux distro, that works fine on my hardware, and is released every six months... FOR FREE.
        • sooo glad you are a janitor...

          Because your j post made no bloody sense. The product that is being referred to its the hardware (which are mostly made in Asia). Drivers need to be updated and tweaked to work on the new update, (a major one from the looks of it) which will most likely be downloaded...FOR FREE.
          Cory Ducey
    • OEMs have a lot more work to do

      than just load on the new OS and hope that everything works exactly the same as the old OS. They have to make sure the hardware they're using will run optimally. They have to adapt power settings, preferences, driver variants and all sorts of other things in order to make a product that "just works" for the end user. When you build your own computer and add in your own hardware, it doesn't always "just work," and something like that is completely unacceptable for people buying completely built machines.
      Jacob VanWagoner
      • OEMs have a lot more work to do

        Even if you're not actually building a computer from scratch and just merely replacing a part, like I did with a hard drive a few months ago. There's no guarantee that said part is going to work just fine with everything else! Thankfully in my case it did! And yes I made sure that it was compatible. But that doesn't always mean diddly squat!
        Nicole Niehaus
    • This has always happened.

      Microsoft releases an OS and within the first 6 months to a year major incompatibility problems. It was bad with Vista because of the increased system requirements that MS still doesn't address. With that being said i don't think every PC manufacture out there really wants Windows 8 to be a success so they go by consumer demands. If no one wants or very little wants to use Windows 8, PC manufactures will focus on other OS compatibility issues first.
  • There is always a gap between RTM

    and available to the public. The day it's available to the public is the day the OEM's will ship their devices to the outlets. That is also when it will be available in the Windows Store. I also heard that RTM won't be available on MSDN or Technet.
  • WindoZe

    Whay does anybody waste their time with MS. There are so many other ways to do this and it seems to me that Ballmer needs to be placed into the dust bin of dead ideas.
    • Wow

      You have succeeded in making an even dumber response than the average trolls, if only because you combined the use of Windoze with the inability to spell why. And you finish it off with nonsense about dead ideas.
      Michael Alan Goff
      • So Many Other Ways To Waste Their Time!

        "Whay (sic.) does anybody waste their time with MS. There are so many other ways to do this..."

        WindoZe has mastered so many other ways of wasting time with MS, other than wasting time with it.

        Figure that one out.

        One thing is clear: WindoZe knows how to waste time, and seems damned proud of it.
  • New Zealand?

    wonder why this is figuring in to the launch time?? interesting!

    At any rate, I eagerly await the response from MS on if/when MSDN folks can get their hands on it!
    • The International Dateline.

      New Zealand is the closet major country to the International Dateliine, 180 degrees longitude. The opposite of GMT, UTC.

  • I love my Surface RT (8.1 Preview) ...

    ... and I wish I didn't have to wait until October to get the bits for RT 8.1. I have heard different thinks about whether or not I can "upgrade" from RT 8.1 Preview to RT 8.1. The same question got for my Windows 8.1 Pro Preview.

    Ed, what's the story there?
    M Wagner
  • My Old Laptop is ready

    My old laptop is ready, willing an able to get the update, but I wonder if it'll really be any different then the 8.1 I am currently evaluating? We shall see.
    I still think they should have just stuck with Windows 7 64 Bit, add a few new things like Movie maker from Windows XP, and renamed it Windows 8 or heck, even Windows 7.1
    Paul on the Mesa