Windows 8.1 coming October 18th, Windows Store gets it a day early

Microsoft has announced that Windows 8.1 will be coming October 18th via the Windows Store and retail outlets and will be a free update for those who already have Windows 8 installed on their machines.

If you plan on downloading the update via the Windows Store, you can grab the update on the 17th (at 4AM, PDT) as that time aligns to 12:00 AM in New Zealand on the 18th.

Windows 8.1 will bring quite a few new features to the table including the return of the Start button, enhancements to the Modern interface, and a bunch more. Steve Ballmer has referred to Windows 8.1 as a refined blend when making the comparisons of Windows 8.1 to coffee.

Neowin had previously revealed that Microsoft is finishing up testing of the Windows 8.1 platform with the final internal testing date to be August 23rd. With the launch date now set in stone, Windows 8.1 should be hitting RTM very soon, likely in the last week of August. But, at this time, it looks like those of you with MSDN/TechNet subscription may have to wait to get your hands on the update as several reports suggest that Microsoft will not make the update available early to developers.

Windows 8.1 is part of Microsoft’s new cadence to release updates to the platform on a yearly basis. This update, originally codenamed Blue, is a testament to that cadence and we will be interested to see when Microsoft gives out information about the next update that should arrive next year.

Source: Microsoft

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To me upgrade to Windows 8.0 or 8.1 is still a major downgrade from Windows 7 at this point in time even my sister law didn't like it.
The one thing I really hate more then any thing is Windows 8 Metro Apps don't work offline in fact nor dose Windows 8 if lose your internet.
What if I don't want use Microsoft Live Account well I guest your SOL once again.
To me Windows 8 is major spy ware.
I may as well just deal with Linux if MS doesn't get it head out of you know what in the near future.

SHS said,
To me upgrade to Windows 8.0 or 8.1 is still a major downgrade from Windows 7 at this point in time even my sister law didn't like it.
The one thing I really hate more then any thing is Windows 8 Metro Apps don't work offline in fact nor dose Windows 8 if lose your internet.
What if I don't want use Microsoft Live Account well I guest your SOL once again.
To me Windows 8 is major spy ware.
I may as well just deal with Linux if MS doesn't get it head out of you know what in the near future.
I hate Windows 8 just like most consumers........but you do not need a Microsoft account to run Windows 8. You do need one for the App Store however. Dot Matrix will be along very soon though to correct you. Standby................

SHS said,
To me upgrade to Windows 8.0 or 8.1 is still a major downgrade from Windows 7 at this point in time even my sister law didn't like it.
The one thing I really hate more then any thing is Windows 8 Metro Apps don't work offline in fact nor dose Windows 8 if lose your internet.
What if I don't want use Microsoft Live Account well I guest your SOL once again.
To me Windows 8 is major spy ware.
I may as well just deal with Linux if MS doesn't get it head out of you know what in the near future.

You pretty much need an account for any major OS today. Apple ties into your iTunes account, Ubuntu pushes for a One account, Google forces you into a Google account for both Android and ChromeOS, so it should be no surprise that Microsoft pushes for a Live account.

Dot Matrix said,

You pretty much need an account for any major OS today. Apple ties into your iTunes account, Ubuntu pushes for a One account, Google forces you into a Google account for both Android and ChromeOS, so it should be no surprise that Microsoft pushes for a Live account.

Right on cue, and I actually agree with his comment for the very first time I believe. (Sheds tear) :'-(

I am thinking Win key + S might be the way to end up not relying on a start menu in the desktop without having to go full screen.

It brings up the search experience, so if I turn off the Bing integration it should behave a lot like that in the Windows 7 / Start8 start menu.

"We are no longer in the world where the Windows team has three years to plan, build, test, modify and then RTM a new version of Windows. Instead, since Windows 8, we've entered a world where Microsoft is giving itself about a year to perform all of those tasks.

Microsoft doesn't need to try to perfect Windows as much as possible before declaring it ready to RTM. The company can RTM Windows and then push patches, fixes and updates to it right up to the time it is generally available -- and continue on a regular basis after that. Supposedly, according to my sources, there will be at least one big batch of updates for Windows 8.1 and the Microsoft-built and bundled apps (like Mail, Xbox Music, the Bing apps, etc.) pushed out shortly before general availability."

http://www.zdnet.com/they-dont...ke-they-used-to-7000019390/


Who needs beta testers when you have million of idiots who willing to paid you for that job.

Microsoft really needs to get its timing right. They should have scheduled the release to come at the end of summer to take advantage of the back-to-school buying season.

WinMunkee said,
Dear Microsoft,
Please take this time between now and then to update the OS icons in the desktop.
That is all.

Are they in the desktop, or on the desktop? Genuine question...

Are enthusiasts really general public? I remember running Windows 7 and Windows 8 maybe 3 months prior to their initial release. I'm sure most of us will get it sooner.

winLover117 said,
"Windows 8.1 will bring quite a few new features to the table including the return of the Start button"

are you freaking kidding me??? this new start button is nothing but completely useless given it opens hideous start screen which does not fit the desktop environment


It's just a button and that's what they are saying it is. They're not lying to anyone and calling it a menu.

Take my money. That is all. I'm more excited for Windows than I am awaiting the Mavericks OS X update. Microsoft is innovating, and Apple is stalling.

dbam987 said,
Take my money. That is all. I'm more excited for Windows than I am awaiting the Mavericks OS X update. Microsoft is innovating, and Apple is stalling.

Yeah, wrapping the same old stuff (only with less features) in a different package for touch screens sure is the pinicle of innovation. /s

Windows 8.1 is little more than a correction on Microsoft's part after all the crap they got from their user base.

dbam987 said,
Take my money. That is all. I'm more excited for Windows than I am awaiting the Mavericks OS X update. Microsoft is innovating, and Apple is stalling.
What exactly did Microsoft "innovate" with Windows 8?

JHBrown said,
What exactly did Microsoft "innovate" with Windows 8?

Frustration? Gaudy flashing squares? Whiteness. They also innovated whiteness.

Bugs aside, the 8.1 beta has been good to me. Can't wait to get more goodies in October. I think a lot of people will enjoy the new Xbox Music. Though still no Zune, it's a massive improvement over its current state.

Figure 8 Dash said,
Bugs aside, the 8.1 beta has been good to me. Can't wait to get more goodies in October. I think a lot of people will enjoy the new Xbox Music. Though still no Zune, it's a massive improvement over its current state.
I'm certainly enjoying it more. For me, it's good enough now to warrant using it regularly. Though I have to admit having the Xbox Music subscription is a must to get the most out of it.

I wish they would just merge Xbox Music into Xbox Gold as an optional tier.

"return of the start button"

/me chuckles. Wait until those who have not played with 8.1 see that it's simply a button and not a true start menu that it should have been (per massive feedback). The B&M'ing will continue.

ir0nw0lf said,
"return of the start button"

/me chuckles. Wait until those who have not played with 8.1 see that it's simply a button and not a true start menu that it should have been (per massive feedback). The B&M'ing will continue.

I'm at a loss as to why people need a ridiculously outdated menu to use an OS. Considering no other operating system on the market has a menu that even comes close to offering the functionality the Menu did, yet no one has any issues at all using these systems.

There is nothing at all wrong with the Windows 8 Start Screen. If you're that lost without a Start Menu, than I feel sorry for you.

Dot Matrix said,

I'm at a loss as to why people need a ridiculously outdated menu to use an OS. Considering no other operating system on the market has a menu that even comes close to offering the functionality the Menu did, yet no one has any issues at all using these systems.

There is nothing at all wrong with the Windows 8 Start Screen. If you're that lost without a Start Menu, than I feel sorry for you.

The start menu was faster to navigate and required less user interaction to start a program. Personally I don't mind change, but when it's a less efficient change, I see no point in it.

Astra.Xtreme said,

The start menu was faster to navigate and required less user interaction to start a program. Personally I don't mind change, but when it's a less efficient change, I see no point in it.

Could the same be said for simply pinning those links directly to the taskbar or simply showing all folders in an explorer window?

Astra.Xtreme said,

The start menu was faster to navigate and required less user interaction to start a program. Personally I don't mind change, but when it's a less efficient change, I see no point in it.

How is it faster? There is no way the start menu was faster. You have to click on the start button, go to all programs, then in the long list of programs find the one you're looking for, then click on the final link to the program.

HOW is that faster than just going to the start menu and clicking on your program? What is that 4 mouse movements/clicks vs 2?

mnl1121 said,

How is it faster? There is no way the start menu was faster. You have to click on the start button, go to all programs, then in the long list of programs find the one you're looking for, then click on the final link to the program.

HOW is that faster than just going to the start menu and clicking on your program? What is that 4 mouse movements/clicks vs 2?

Try opening multiple programs. You have to swing back and forth between Metro, and it's a massive waste of time. You simply can't be as productive when you have to constantly bounce back and forth between 2 interfaces. And FYI it takes 2 clicks to open programs via the start menu. Click start, then click on the program shortcut which is most likely in the "10 most commonly used" list.

For somebody like me who has no use for apps on a PC, Metro is pointless and intrusive. I'll stick with 7 and retain my productivity cycle.

Astra.Xtreme said,

For somebody like me who has no use for apps on a PC, Metro is pointless and intrusive. I'll stick with 7 and retain my productivity cycle.

QFT

Astra.Xtreme said,

Metro is pointless and intrusive. I'll stick with 7 and retain my productivity cycle.

Not when you consider the limitations of the desktop environment. Such as input and how you can only actively input data, etc. into one active window/program at a time. This isn't something that could be truly fixed within the desktop interface either. Not when you consider how the interface and window messaging systems are designed to function.

Bad Man Duke said,
Not when you consider the limitations of the desktop environment. Such as input and how you can only actively input data, etc. into one active window/program at a time. This isn't something that could be truly fixed within the desktop interface either. Not when you consider how the interface and window messaging systems are designed to function.

How does Metro improve on that? Honestly, the way I see it, Metro was designed exclusively for touch input and apps. Since I have no use for either those, I don't appreciate Microsoft forcing it on us and then now allowing any of it to be turned off without a third party "hack". I like the general UI style that they went for and I'm sure there are plenty of under-the-hood performance improvements, but the lack of freedom is pretty aggravating.

A ton of people want Windows 8 minus the Metro invasion, but Microsoft has no interest in listening to the customers. The "start button" they're including in 8.1 is a complete slap in the face to us and not at all what we wanted. They're either completely ignorant, or just trolling. There's absolutely no reason why they can't include a few options to allow the UI to be customized.

Astra.Xtreme said,

How does Metro improve on that? Honestly, the way I see it, Metro was designed exclusively for touch input and apps. Since I have no use for either those, I don't appreciate Microsoft forcing it on us and then now allowing any of it to be turned off without a third party "hack". I like the general UI style that they went for and I'm sure there are plenty of under-the-hood performance improvements, but the lack of freedom is pretty aggravating.

A ton of people want Windows 8 minus the Metro invasion, but Microsoft has no interest in listening to the customers. The "start button" they're including in 8.1 is a complete slap in the face to us and not at all what we wanted. They're either completely ignorant, or just trolling. There's absolutely no reason why they can't include a few options to allow the UI to be customized.

Microsoft has no interest in remaining stuck in the past, either. At some point the company must move on to new things, or else they'll fall out of business. If you don't want Metro apps, then don't use them, however even on desktop PCs, the Metro Start Screen is a welcome change. The Start Menu was too old to carry forward, and even if Microsoft did bring it along for the ride, there were issues in upgrading it to fit the new feature set. The Start Screen in Win8.1 is a great way to incur vibrant, dynamic functionality in an otherwise bland, static, and featureless desktop paradigm.

Astra.Xtreme said,

The start menu was faster to navigate and required less user interaction to start a program.

Faster how? Larger icons on the start screen allow for faster selection accoring to Fitts Law. Also, the full screen layout allows for more icons to be displayed at once, so you have to do less scrolling and digging through a heirarchy of folders. Third, the ability to group icons allows for logical and spatial memory mappings that the start menu does not allow. The start screen has some real technical advantages over the start menu that translate to better productivity.

Try opening multiple programs.

Try opening multiple programs on the start menu. It's still the same number of clicks if you're lucky and the program you want is in the top 10, but it could be as many as 8 clicks to open two programs on the start menu compared to 4 for the start screen.

Dot Matrix said,

Microsoft has no interest in remaining stuck in the past, either. At some point the company must move on to new things, or else they'll fall out of business. If you don't want Metro apps, then don't use them, however even on desktop PCs, the Metro Start Screen is a welcome change. The Start Menu was too old to carry forward, and even if Microsoft did bring it along for the ride, there were issues in upgrading it to fit the new feature set. The Start Screen in Win8.1 is a great way to incur vibrant, dynamic functionality in an otherwise bland, static, and featureless desktop paradigm.

The desktop isn't going anywhere, so there's no point in taking half of it away. But like I said, there's no reason why they couldn't have enabled all these things by default, but still allowed you to turn them off. Much like the legacy UI settings that have been in 7, Vista, and XP. The customer knows what's best; not Microsoft. And clearly that point has been made thus far.

ModernMech said,

Faster how? Larger icons on the start screen allow for faster selection accoring to Fitts Law. Also, the full screen layout allows for more icons to be displayed at once, so you have to do less scrolling and digging through a heirarchy of folders. Third, the ability to group icons allows for logical and spatial memory mappings that the start menu does not allow. The start screen has some real technical advantages over the start menu that translate to better productivity.

Try opening multiple programs on the start menu. It's still the same number of clicks if you're lucky and the program you want is in the top 10, but it could be as many as 8 clicks to open two programs on the start menu compared to 4 for the start screen.

It's kind of a good idea, but poorly executed (in my opinion). What they should have done is combine everything into 1 UI. Having to switch back and forth between 2 UIs is a really poor design. Apps need to have a windowed option for them to be useful, and there needs to be some method of switching between open programs quickly. How it stands now, you are required to do too much moving of the mouse, clicks, keyboard typing, and/or combination of them all.

The start menu was an extremely simple and organized means to stuff a ton of shortcuts into a small portion of your screen. Metro is just a full screen version of it, with the other user option shortcuts randomly tossed in different areas of the UI. What's the point of having 2 control panels? It's just a mess and they need to make up their mind about what UI they want to give us. If they're going to throw a bunch of junk in our faces, at least give us the options to organize it.

Astra.Xtreme said,

snipped
You have to take a much bigger picture into consideration. Is touch a big part of the optimization? Absolutely. Touch is an example of multiple input sources. The desktop could never fully implement such a scheme. Again, you have consider how the desktop interface was designed to fully understand why. Optimizing Windows for touch opens up a wide range of possibilities.

Metro improves on this by removing the barriers that would have constrained Windows. Ever try Windows on any kind of tablet device before Windows 8? It was a horrible and inefficient experience. Is it a perfect or even great experience? Honestly no, but we're literally talking about a 1.0 system that is bringing monumental changes. It's the same as when we moved from command line to GUI. That evolution eventually brought multitasking and an overall better computing experience, but it took time to flesh out. Metro is no different.

8.1 is nothing more than an extension of the transitional period that has to take place in order for computing to continue to evolve and advance. It's anything but a slap in the face. To me, the desktop is a prison with clearly defined boundaries and limitations. I could never work on a Spreadsheet or Visual Studio Solution in an active window and be able to issue a voice command or touch gesture to another program to play music in the background without making that first window inactive within the desktop environment. It's a clear definition of its limitations, just like how you couldn't truly multitask within a DOS environment. There had to be major changes.

Does Metro improve on everything? Clearly no, but it has laid the groundwork for major changes and extensions of Windows. In many ways that a lot of users don't see nor understand. Many users I've spoken to are simply set in their ways. They have a particular way of working or doing things. Part of this boils down to resisting change. That's not to say that there aren't substantiated reasons not to resist, but not being open to it is not a reason to resist. Windows 8 clearly has a ways to go before it can really be what MS has envisioned it to be, but at the same time users who write it off these changes wholesale are wrong to do so.

There are areas where they can continue to improve and allow for more customization, but hostility towards Metro is IMO unfounded.

Bad Man Duke said,
snip

Okay, I see what you're getting at now. I agree that 8 is definitely more friendly with touch devices. It works great on the Surface tablet, but you still have the mess of the 2 UIs. Metro plus a taskbar would be really nice and then they could basically have a reason to get rid of the traditional desktop since it still suffers from the same touch interaction issues as the previous OSs. So why keep it around?

On the other hand, touch screen PCs are not selling well at all. People don't want to pay the premium for something that's not efficient to use. A keyboard and mouse will always be quicker and more precise, all without the strain of holding your hand to a screen. This is exactly why they either need to have a separate "touch" version of Win 8, or have plenty of options to customize it according to the device. Obviously their idea was to make one version that's universal to all devices out there, but it will never work well unless they give the user the power to customize.

Astra.Xtreme said,

But like I said, there's no reason why they couldn't have enabled all these things by default, but still allowed you to turn them off. Much like the legacy UI settings that have been in 7, Vista, and XP.

If you're saying this, it's clear you ignored what I said then. Let's try this again: "The Start Menu was too old to carry forward, and even if Microsoft did bring it along for the ride, there were issues in upgrading it to fit the new feature set."

Dot Matrix said,

If you're saying this, it's clear you ignored what I said then. Let's try this again: "The Start Menu was too old to carry forward, and even if Microsoft did bring it along for the ride, there were issues in upgrading it to fit the new feature set."

And that would be purely your opinion... I highly disagree.
Unless you can come up with reasons why the Start Menu is "dated", but I honestly don't think you can come up with valid reasons. Metro is exceptionally great for touch. Everything else is equal or lesser than the function of the traditional start menu.

Everything else is equal or lesser than the function of the traditional start menu.

This isn't even opinion, but blatantly against facts. The start screen has several distinct, quantifiable advantages over the start menu, as many people have explained to you in this thread.

For example, the ability to display information through live tiles, the ability to display more icons, the ability to display larger icons and different sized icons, the ability to group icons, the ability to pin folders, the ability to customize the background... I can go on.

You may personally not find these advantageous. But saying "everything else is equal or lesser" is just plain wrong and against the facts.

Astra.Xtreme said,

And that would be purely your opinion... I highly disagree.
Unless you can come up with reasons why the Start Menu is "dated", but I honestly don't think you can come up with valid reasons. Metro is exceptionally great for touch. Everything else is equal or lesser than the function of the traditional start menu.

It's not opinion. It's fact, and it was posted here on Neowin by a Microsoft developer.

http://www.neowin.net/forum/to...ws-8/page-30#entry595048551

Dot Matrix said,

It's not opinion. It's fact, and it was posted here on Neowin by a Microsoft developer.

http://www.neowin.net/forum/to...ws-8/page-30#entry595048551


Couldn't launch Metro applications? That's pretty pathetic since there are numerous 3rd party applications that can do just that. Basically what he said is that the developers were either too lazy or not talented enough to interface new features into the existing start menu, so they decided to start fresh and toss an additional UI along side the existing one.

There's no such thing as a limitation in software, unless hardware is creating a restriction. Since this isn't the case, any excuse they come up with is nothing but steamy BS. All these excuses about why they refuse to give users options is laughable.

So what is the point of the 2 month gap between RTM to Public Availability. It's not like they are going to be changing anything or adding new features. I can understand maybe not pushing to Windows Update b/c of bandwidth. But they should at least make it downloadable manually from one of their obscure download pages.

Documentation updates, allowing OEMs early access to be able to create images for mass deployment in production (with bits of crapware), allow hardware vendors access for making and testing drivers, allow book publishers access to create books like "Windows 8.1 for Dummies" or "Windows 8.1 the unwritten manual", etc.

Everything you've mentioned is talking about when the update goes live through Windows Update (i.e. when most people will know about it)

Still doesn't give them a reason why to not let it be released for enthusiasts. Obviously it will probably be leaked, but it still should be officially released.

@Crimson - I don't blame MS, I know about drivers. The GENERAL PUBLIC will blame MS, that's why I understand keeping it off Windows Update for a bit.

In the age of digital downloads I really don't understand the wait between RTM and general availability...

Yes, that is exactly it. MS knows there are a lot of people who will download it on day 1, and if they have any problems at all, they will blame Microsoft, even if it is a 3rd party support problem (Vista for example). The ~2 months between RTM and general availability gives 3rd parties time to ensure their stuff still works and to create documentation and train their call center staff.

Yes, most of this is done while the product is in beta, but you still want a little buffer. Especially for documentation. I find it very sloppy when I see screen shots for a product taken on a beta version of Windows, especially if they don't exactly match the final version.

I think it's so that Manufacturers like Dell etc.. can preload and have their computers ready, drivers tested. When it comes to the big launch Best Buy/PC World/Amazon will be selling Windows 8.1 laptops/desktops.

I doubt that the driver model changes significantly between Windows 8.0 and 8.1. So driver compatibility probably isn't the issue for the October release date. The wait definitely sounds like a buffer-zone for OEM's to ready up their documentation and pre-load new system builds with Windows 8.1 already on-board. No one likes having to wait an extra hour installing an update the moment they crack open the box!

dbam987 said,
I doubt that the driver model changes significantly between Windows 8.0 and 8.1. So driver compatibility probably isn't the issue for the October release date. The wait definitely sounds like a buffer-zone for OEM's to ready up their documentation and pre-load new system builds with Windows 8.1 already on-board. No one likes having to wait an extra hour installing an update the moment they crack open the box!

Yup pretty sure I've already read it's so they can release it with new hardware as well... possibly even meaning a Surface Mini or something!?

I do like the size of the Acer Iconia W3, and would be happy if Microsoft made a similar sized Surface RT, one with data-connectivity onboard so I can hook it to my Verizon data plan. Here's hoping the 8.1 update provides support for devices with data connectivity.

REM2000 said,
I think it's so that Manufacturers like Dell etc.. can preload and have their computers ready, drivers tested. When it comes to the big launch Best Buy/PC World/Amazon will be selling Windows 8.1 laptops/desktops.
It's a free update, people can go home and download it right away. Even by waiting 2 months there will bed plenty of computers sold after with 8.0

dbam987 said,
I doubt that the driver model changes significantly between Windows 8.0 and 8.1. So driver compatibility probably isn't the issue for the October release date. The wait definitely sounds like a buffer-zone for OEM's to ready up their documentation and pre-load new system builds with Windows 8.1 already on-board. No one likes having to wait an extra hour installing an update the moment they crack open the box!

Drivers, I stopped using the preview just because the driver of my touchpad didn't work properly, some of the multitouch gestures didnĀ“t work at all , so yeah, I'll wait until GA for working drivers.

oh yeah people can update it, but if youre a manufacturer you want to push out your pc's with the latest and greatest. Dear consumer please buy this laptop with the new Windows 8.1 update preinstalled, as PC's are a race to the bottom anything that can give manufacturers an edge they will use. RTM is something Microsoft has done for a long while, it'll be a long time before they RTM and release to the public at the same time.

zeroomegazx said,
*cough cough*

You guys really don't follow the news do you. This is FREE for everyone with Windows 8 already.

I was referring to Upgrades to older versions of Windows (7, etc.)

The update is free only to existing Windows 8 PC's.

MS gave people about 3 months to hop on the train. I am not sure why people wouldn't pick it up the first time. Windows 8, while annoying for the first 2 hours getting used to not having the start menu, is better in every way than 7.

zeroomegazx said,
MS gave people about 3 months to hop on the train. I am not sure why people wouldn't pick it up the first time. Windows 8, while annoying for the first 2 hours getting used to not having the start menu, is better in every way than 7.
For me, it's because I recently got my hands on another laptop that didn't include a Win8 license. All of my other PC's are 8 and awaiting 8.1.

zeroomegazx said,
*cough cough*

You guys really don't follow the news do you. This is FREE for everyone with Windows 8 already.

Ummm.. it's pretty obvious this guy isn't on 8 on the machine he wants to upgrade.