Microsoft will be shipping the final version of Windows 8.1
to computer producers in late August, claims Windows CFO Tami Reller. The version heading to OEM partners comes after the software giant made its free Windows 8.1 Preview available to download
and test, and in theory will allow for computers running Windows 8.1 to go on sale before the holiday season.
The Windows Blog advises
that more information about how customers can get the Windows 8.1 update will be available "in the coming months," though an approximate release date was not revealed.
The free update includes a number of changes to the operating system, with the return of the Start button
being a partial victory for those against the Metro style brought in with the operating system, though it will still load up the entire Start Screen instead of a smaller icon-filled box. The lock screen has more options available to users, snapping applications to part of the screen can be customized further than the dividing line currently used in Windows 8, and a number of new apps will be incorporated into the release.
The presentation held at the company's Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC
) demonstrated Windows 8.1 running on a range of devices, as well as the addition of Miracast to the OS. A Surface Pro
tablet running OneNote effectively turned a network-connected TV into a whiteboard. The company also announced new distribution and reselling programs to provide incentives for sales of featured Windows 8 devices.