Speaking at the Wired Business Conference, Windows chief Julie Larson-Green has confirmed we'll see a public preview of Windows 8.1, codenamed "Blue," in June. The operating system is expected to be released to manufacturing in late summer and will bring a plethora of new features, including more customization options, new apps, and a modern file browser for the Start screen interface.
In the past weeks, we have seen a number of leaked builds of Windows 8.1, the most recent of which was build 9385. The builds have exposed numerous new features, including a new Start screen, a wider variety of customization options and an updated settings panel.
Larson-Green went on to talk about new hardware that we may see "in a few weeks." This likely refers to the smaller Windows 8 tablets that have been rumored for several months as well as new PCs that were shown off at Computex in June.
In addition to stating that Windows 8.1 will be available at BUILD, Larson-Green also talked briefly about the Start menu, saying that it would not be returning. What is important to note is that she did not say that the Start button was out of the question, so it could be possible that we will see the button's return much like the developer preview of Windows 8. This aligns to previous rumors regarding the Start button's return that indicated the button would simply return users to the Start screen.
Seeing that we will be getting our hands on the Public preview in late June, this makes it seem highly plausible that the rumors stating the platform would hit RTM in late summer are accurate. Knowing this, Microsoft's rapid release schedule is coming together nicely with the first major update arriving well before the product hits its one-year retail anniversary.
Source: Windows Blog