Windows 8.1 up for order, update available 18 October

Windows 8.1 is out on 18 October, and it's available to order now if you're in the US.

Windows 8.1 is out on 18 October, and it's available to order now. The update hasn't hit the UK branch of the Microsoft online store yet, but is available to order on the US page.

8.1 is the first major update to Microsoft's Windows 8 software, which has divided opinion with its bold new look. It's a free update if you already have a PC, laptop or tablet with Windows 8 on it; or if you're new to Windows 8, the update will set you back around £75 for the latest update, or £125 for the professional version.

The update lands a couple of days before the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2  tablets, which go on sale on 22 october.

The bold coloured squares of Windows 8's touchscreen-focused look and feel marked one of the biggest redesigns ever for Microsoft's venerable operating system, failing to win over people used to Windows 7, Vista or XP.

In response to criticism of the new, touchscreen-focused design of Windows 8, Microsoft has reinstated some familiar elements from older versions of the software to Windows 8.1 update, including the return of the Start button and the option to bypass the colourful but controversial home screen.

The October launch means Windows 8.1 is landing on new PCs and as an upgrade almost exactly a year after Windows 8 took its first bow. It's not been a stellar year: manufacturers have explicitly blamed Windows 8 for the recent decline of PC sales as punters and IT departments failed to warm to the new design. And Microsoft has lost an eye-watering $900m on the Surface tablet showing off the touchscreen Windows 8 experience -- although that hasn't stopped Microsoft ploughing on with the Surface sequel.

To find out more about the new software, click here to see Windows 8.1 in the US store.

Can Windows 8.1 turn things around for Microsoft? Tell me your thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook wall.


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