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

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.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

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.

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