Windows 8.1 to hit PC makers by August

Microsoft is on track to deliver Windows 8.1 by August 2013 to its PC/device partners, officials confirmed during the company's partner conference.

Mary Jo Foley
Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network.
Mary Jo Foley
2 min read
Windows 8.1 start screen

Microsoft will deliver Windows 8.1, codenamed "Blue," to OEMs in late August, company officials said Monday.

So it looks like Windows 8.1 is going to be released to manufacturing by August, after all, as tipsters have been saying since the Blue codename first leaked almost a year ago.

Microsoft delivered a public preview of Windows 8.1 on June 26 during its Build conference. There are no more preview/test builds scheduled. The next stop is RTM (release to manufacture).

Microsoft will make Windows 8.1 available to all Windows 8 and Windows RT users as a free upgrade through the Windows Store.

Some Microsoft watchers have been predicting that RTM and general availability of the Windows 8.1 bits won't happen simultaneously, but this is not what I have heard from my sources. While new devices preloaded with the Windows 8.1 bits will probably not be out until late September/early October, I have heard that the general availability of the Windows 8.1 bits won't be held back this time around. I think users will be able to get the 8.1 bits simultaneously or very shortly after RTM.

With Windows 8.1, Microsoft is moving to a more rapid delivery schedule with its Windows releases. Instead of delivering a "big bang" release every two to three years, the Softies are now endeavoring to roll out a new Windows release on an annual basis, from what I've heard from my contacts.

Many of the testers I've heard from have noted that the preview build of Windows 8.1 is quite buggy. Yes, it's a test build. But the number of bugs had led some of us to wonder whether Microsoft might end up going later than August with RTM. It seems that isn't going to be the case. I guess that means we should expect Microsoft to roll out lots of fixes and updates for 8.1 on a monthly or more frequent basis, as it has been doing with Windows 8 since that product launched in October 2012.

What's new in Windows 8.1 (pictures)

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Microsoft officials didn't offer an updated number of Windows 8 licenses sold during the partner conference keynote. Last we heard, in early May of this year, Microsoft has sold more 100 million Windows 8 licenses to date. 

During the partner show keynote, Microsoft officials demonstrated a new potential use of the Miracast support that will be built into Windows 8.1. Officials showed off the ability to use digital ink on a Surface Pro and to share handwritten notes across Windows 8.1, Windows Phone and the TV/Xbox -- using a Miracast-enabled Surface Pro as a digital white board, in effect. 

This story originally appeared at ZDNet under the headline "Microsoft confirms Windows 8.1 to RTM by August."