Mark your calendar folks, Microsoft confirms that Windows 8.1, the first major update for the operating system, will start rolling out on October 18th worldwide for free. However the update will be available to all Windows 8 users through the Windows Store starting October 17th at 7AM Eastern Time. The update will also be available on new devices the same day, but it will depend on the market. Either way you can buy a new Windows 8 PC, get home and download the update at no extra cost.
For those unfamiliar, Windows 8.1 is the first update (not an upgrade, even though it looks like one) for Windows 8 and Windows RT that brings hundreds of new changes, such as: the return of the Start button, boot-to-desktop option, streamlined Start screen with new tile sizes and additional functionality, a totally redesigned PC settings, search is now powered by Bing, full SkyDrive integration, Internet Explorer 11, update apps (Calendar, Mail, People, etc.), new apps like Health & Fitness, Food & Drink, Reading list, Alarms, and many more.
The announcement by Brandon LeBlanc, Senior Marketing Communications Manager on the Marketing Group at Microsoft, at the Blogging Windows follows the Neowin.net rumor that Microsoft may use August 23rd as the final day to test Windows 8.1, before going RTM (Release To Manufacturing) or “going gold”. Also October 18th coincides with date that Zdnet’s Mary Jo Foley who said that the update will be available mid-October.
Recently a close final version of Windows 8.1 leaked into the web and it gave us a glance of what we can expect in the October launch. This pre-release meant for PC makers shows updated apps (Mail, Calendar, People, etc.), improvements on Internet Explorer 11 like the new Reading view option to add new reading styling to web pages (font, background, etc.), new navigation tweaks to find app options quicker, and lot more. (I recommend you to read this previous article I wrote on Windows 8.1 build 9471 leak.)
Also a different to previous releases Microsoft is saying that no one, no TechNet, no MSDN, or volume licenses, will get the RTM version of Windows until Oct 18th.
What are you looking forward the most in this update?