Starting at midnight on October 18 in New Zealand, Windows 8.1 will begin rolling out worldwide as a free update for consumers on Windows 8 through the Windows Store.
Also available at retail and on new devices, Microsoft will be hoping Windows 8.1 will become what Windows 8 should have been.
Research group Gartner recently claimed some users rejected Windows 8 because of the changes made, coupled with "a lack of discoverability, help or cues for the new user experience."
Yet confidence is high in Redmond, with the Microsoft team firmly believing the free update can finally put to bed months of Windows 8 bashing in the industry, kickstarting a new era for the operating system.
"Windows 8.1 continues the vision Microsoft began with Windows 8 and is an example of the company’s commitment to continuous innovation and improvement for customers," Microsoft says.
The software giant says business customers can begin testing for deployment in their environments with the Windows 8.1 Enterprise Preview.
Speaking at the company’s Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) in Texas last month, Windows CMO and CFO Tami Reller confirmed the release will be available for OEM partners in late August.
“This means OEMs will be able to get the RTM bits and begin preparing devices with Windows 8.1 just in time for the holidays,” Reller said.
“We’ll have more details to share in the coming months for consumers and other customers on how to get Windows 8.1."
R2 wave upon us
Microsoft will also release Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows System Center 2012 R2 and the latest update to Windows Intune on the same day as Windows 8.1.
According to Microsoft Corporate Vice President of Windows Server and System Center Brad Anderson, it’s no coincidence that all four updates will be available on the same day.
“Just a few weeks ago I wrote about the common planning efforts and engineering milestones we shared during the development of this R2 wave," he wrote.
"And seeing these products and services become generally available on the same day (with all their integrated scenarios!) is the ultimate benefit."
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