Microsoft's Brandon LeBlanc said on Tuesday that the upcoming Windows 8.1 update will be free to Windows 8 customers through the Windows Store. Previously, it was assumed that customers would be required to pay at least $40 for the update, the same price they paid for the upgrade from Windows 7 before the end of January 2013.
The news follows a Q&A session with Microsoft Chief Marketing Officer and Chief Financial Officer of Windows Tami Reller during the JP Morgan Technology, Media & Telecom Conference in Boston. She told investors that Microsoft has sold more than 100 million Windows 8 licenses thus far, and that more than 70,000 apps are available in Windows Store. There are also a larger number of touch-based laptops on the market now starting at $400 USD.
She also took a moment to talk about Windows "Blue" which will be a free update to Windows 8 and Windows RT-based devices. She said the updates will be made available through Windows Store to make the transition extremely simple and painless.
"Tami reiterated our goal of delivering continual updates to create a richer experience for Windows customers," LeBlanc said. "Windows 8.1 is part of that and continues the journey we first began with Windows 8 last fall. Windows 8.1 will help us to deliver the next generation of PCs and tablets with our OEM partners and to deliver the experiences customers— both consumers and businesses alike —need and will just expect moving forward."
He added that additional information about Windows 8.1 will be released in the coming weeks. Consumers can also expect to see a public preview of Windows 8.1 and Windows RT starting June 26 during Microsoft's BUILD 2013 developer conference in San Francisco.
Microsoft has seemingly come under fire from all angles since the release of Windows 8, with OEMs complaining over declining sales and consumers complaining over the new interface and changes to the core platform. The update is rumored to address a number of issues consumers have faced with the new platform including a lack of a Start menu and booting up into the desktop.
However, despite the complaints from customers and OEMs, Windows 8 has definitely caused an increased trend in the PC market to break away from the standard box and clam shell form factors.
"Our OEM partners have delivered tablets, touch laptops, and convertibles that bring the vision of Windows 8 and mobile computing to life," he said. "They have introduced some incredible (and unique) new form factors like the Dell XPS 12, the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13, the Sony VAIO Tap 20, or the recently announced Acer Aspire R7."