Windows 8.1, the OS formerly known as Windows Blue, will arrive at some point this year
Windows Blue has become Windows 8.1, Microsoft confirmed today, saying the free update will be released at some point later in the year.
The announcement came from Microsoft Windows Division’s chief financial officer, Tami Reller, who would not reveal the general release date, but did give some clues.
“We are sensitive to timing of holidays… and are making sure there will be a lineup of hardware that comes pre-loaded with Windows 8.1,” she said during a press conference this afternoon, hinting the OS would be released some time before the Christmas holidays, in order to give partners a chance to have devices prepared for the busy shopping period.
As Microsoft noted earlier this month, everyone will be able to access a preview of Windows 8.1 in June when the Build conference kicks off in San Francisco. Current Windows 8 users will get the update for free from the Windows Store.
Reller (pictured) waxed lyrical about the success of Windows 8, noting there were 70,000 apps on the store, whilst 100 million licenses have been sold.
But that does not mean 100 million people are using Windows 8 – it will be tens of millions less than that for actual user numbers.
Windows 8 has become something of a problem for Microsoft, with many predicting failure for its tablet-based mobile offerings in particular, with the Surface tablet far from blowing the competition away. Some have cited the mix of Surface tablets as a prohibitive factor for adoption, with customers confused about whether they should opt for Windows RT running on an ARM processor, or a device with an Intel chip.
But Reller said Microsoft was determined to keep that “flexibility” of being able to offer ARM and Intel-based tablets.
“Our relationship in the work we’re doing with Intel has never been stronger,” Reller added. “Haswell is interesting… we’ll start to see Windows 8 devices with Haswell… and we will see how that plays into our Surface roadmap.”
She also believes the update will give businesses in particular “much more confidence” in deploying devices with Windows 8 on, given the ease of installing 8.1.
Recent Microsoft results were positive, but showed flat results for Windows 8.
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