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Report: Windows 8.1 Now Heading to OEMs

By - Source: Neowin | B 37 comments

Win8China reports that Microsoft has released Windows 8.1 to OEMs, indicating that the free update for Windows 8 users should arrive soon.

The claim is based on build 9477 (or 9478 claims Russian site PCPro) which supposedly shows that the platform has entered the escrow stage, meaning that Windows 8.1 has become feature-locked. This build is said to be currently under testing by OEMs now and could mean that Microsoft may actually reach RTM by August as originally planned. Windows 8.1 Preview for consumers was made available on June 26, and Windows 8.1 Preview for Enterprise went live on July 30.

Meanwhile, the latest leaked build appearing in the news channel is 9471. In this version, Microsoft has reportedly made the learning curve of Windows 8 a bit easier, and now includes a narrow bar stretched out along the top or bottom screen of built-in apps featuring three dots on the right side, similar to what Microsoft does with Windows Phone 8 apps. These dots indicate that there are additional menu options that can be accessed by right-clicking on the screen, or by swiping from the top or bottom of the display or touchpad.

The leaked build also shows that several built-in apps will remind users to swipe in from the right bezel to reveal the Charms bar which includes a Start shortcut and other app-specific options. Microsoft's Help & Tips app, which was revealed in June but not included in the Windows 8.1 Preview, also makes a partial appearance, providing video clips on how to use SkyDrive (or whatever the cloud drive's new name will be), how to navigate the new Modern UI interface, and more.

CNET reports that Skype comes pre-installed in Build 9471, and Microsoft also makes available new Start screen backgrounds including a moving robot and a fire dragon that, like Android wallpaper, travels as the user swipes left or right across the screen. Several built-in apps have also been enhanced such as Mail, which allows users to move items via drag and drop, and open new multi-tasking windows.

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  • 8 Hide
    CaedenV , August 12, 2013 1:53 PM
    and skype now requires an xbox gold membership...
    wait, no, that is only for xbox users.
  • 2 Hide
    iuswingman , August 12, 2013 1:57 PM
    charms bar? they bedazzled windows 8 lol. Never realized that was what it was called.

    Glad the update is coming soon. been looking forward to it.
  • 5 Hide
    Osmin , August 12, 2013 2:12 PM
    The desktop and start button should disapear for tablets and phones. But if you like Windows instead of Tiles that can not overlap or change to your desired shape and location on large monitors, then the desktop should still exist with an easy to use mouse interface with Metro apps that run in a normal Window. Touch based large monitors side by side are impracticle since they are uncomfortabe to reach for constant use. Let’s hope they fix the worst part of Windows 8, the inability of Metro Apps to run in a window on the Desktop. Having tablet apps take the full screen, or a 1/4 screen on the side of a large desk top monitor in a verticle shape is plain ugly and counterproductive. I should be able to populate my large display with as many small metro apps wherever I want them to be and remove them from the desktop as easily as closing a normal Windows program thus keeping the desktop as the primary work place. Also group icons that hold related apps is better than scrolling a massive list where all icons become similar and confusing. They could have added frequently used apps on the buttom of the Start Menu with the option to load previously used files by holding down the icon and swiping to the desired file in a pop up list. Microsoft is trying to kill the Desktop which is where non tablet users want to be. Microsoft could have easily added the same capabilities as ModernMix which lets you run your Metro apps on your desktop and made Metro apps more appealing to everyone..
  • 4 Hide
    nevilence , August 12, 2013 2:28 PM
    all they need to make 8 successful is a "revert" button, this button allows people who want to use their pc as a pc to revert to a classical interface. those who chose to turn their pc into a tablet can not use the button, thus everyone would be happy. windows 8 would be great if it only had that button ><
  • 2 Hide
    monkeycmonkeydu , August 12, 2013 3:09 PM
    I'd rather buy a machine with Windows 7, or better yet build my own.. with Windows 7.
  • -1 Hide
    kiniku , August 12, 2013 3:30 PM
    So now we can bypass Metro and boot directly to the desktop. Wow Windows 7 does that too. Without all the cool windows phone apps running on my desktop. When can I buy this?
  • 2 Hide
    jimmysmitty , August 12, 2013 3:48 PM
    With 8.1, its pretty easy to make Windows 8 more like Windows 7. Boot to Desktop, tell the start button to go to All Apps instead of the Start Screen and change the default programs to desktop apps instead. Boom you are done.

    Honestly its not that bad. Not to even add in that Windows 8 is actually more secure than 7 is and as well the changes under the hood which make it actually perform better than 7 does make it a great OS. I find it funny though, Vista was considered bad because the majority of OEMs paired it to start with underpowered hardware and 8 is bad because of one change to the GUI yet performs better than Vista or 7 ever did to start.

    Not a big deal as later down the line we will move to the same thing and then they will change again and people will complain then move on again. It happens all the time. DOS -> 95/98 -> XP -> Vista -> 7 -> 8. People hate change. That's all it is.
  • 0 Hide
    alextheblue , August 12, 2013 4:44 PM
    Jimmy, people will be asking for boot to desktop long after it has been made available. It will take years before it sinks in that they added that and other desktop-friendly options, such as the ability to set All Apps so that Desktop apps are listed first, and sharing desktop wallpaper with Start. Keyboard shortcuts still work great in Win8 just like earlier versions, and with these new options, I'm OK with putting Win8 on my next build.

    "Microsoft also makes available new Start screen backgrounds including a moving robot and a fire dragon that, like Android wallpaper, travels as the user swipes left or right across the screen."

    I'd describe these more as animated backgrounds. "Travels"... well the backgrounds already travel.
  • -3 Hide
    JPNpower , August 12, 2013 5:25 PM
    Free or not, I'd rather save the hassle to buy a PC preloaded with 8.1
  • -1 Hide
    hakesterman , August 12, 2013 5:35 PM
    If they just would have added a " Boot to Desktop " mode and gave you a start button option, they would have received much higher ratings for win8.
  • -1 Hide
    ta152h , August 12, 2013 7:10 PM
    Microsoft's catch phrase for Windows 8.1 "It sucks less".

    Microsoft is done, time to start paying attention to Android and Chrome OS on the desktop. Or Linux.

    The day of $100+ operating systems that don't do what people want, but the what company thinks people want, is over.

    Thank goodness. Now we'll get better hardware for the same amount of cash.

  • -1 Hide
    alxianthelast , August 12, 2013 8:34 PM
    I think I can understand this Windows 8.1 learning curve after spending the time to watch the Youtube video about inverting a sphere. i.e. WHAT learning curve the ruined it so bad you have to learn how to use it all over again because it is beating you over the head calling you a brainless man-ape.
  • -1 Hide
    memadmax , August 12, 2013 8:54 PM
    Even with the lame attempt at rolling back to win 7, 8.1 is still worthless in the commercial environment. Heck, even in general desktop use beyond internet explorer is a real, real, real, pain in the a...
  • 1 Hide
    nevilence , August 12, 2013 9:20 PM
    Quote:
    Wow, just wow, never in all my born days have I heard such a retarded statement. How about you hit the button marked "Desktop" and POOF as if by magic you get exactly what you wished for. DO YOU EVEN COMPUTER?!?


    I computer enough to know that windows 8 has been a complete cluster fuck and MS has failed at forcing a rubbish interface and its sales are a direct representation of that fact. But heck fanboys will be fanboys
  • 0 Hide
    Bloob , August 12, 2013 10:12 PM
    Quote:
    Microsoft's catch phrase for Windows 8.1 "It sucks less".

    Microsoft is done, time to start paying attention to Android and Chrome OS on the desktop. Or Linux.

    The day of $100+ operating systems that don't do what people want, but the what company thinks people want, is over.

    Thank goodness. Now we'll get better hardware for the same amount of cash.

    For some, Win 8 represents a step backwards. So in their anger, they think: "heck, if I'm going to take one step back, might as well take ten".
  • -1 Hide
    digiex , August 12, 2013 10:36 PM
    M$ should rename Windows 8 to Tiles 1, Windows 8.1 to Tiles 1.1.
  • -2 Hide
    computerguy72 , August 12, 2013 10:51 PM
    I really like the Win 8.1 changes but I installed 8.1 preview on my nice new Dell XPS 12 and it seems if you have Haswell HD4400 8.1 starts to fall apart immediately. I tried it from a clean factory install of Win8 and went straight to 8.1 with nothing else added. On the preview at least there are serious issues the OEM's need to work out. Intel has HD4400 drivers on it's website for the 8.1 preview specifically but these made the crashing and freezing even worse. When it was working I found 8.1 to be awesome, really what 8 should have been. I think the OEM's should quickly be able to resolve the issues.
  • -2 Hide
    back_by_demand , August 12, 2013 11:12 PM
    Nevilence, "I computer enough to know that windows 8 has been a complete cluster fuck"

    So I guess that means you didn't know about the desktop button, seems to me the worst problem with Windows 8 is ignorant users
  • -2 Hide
    marcolorenzo , August 12, 2013 11:27 PM
    Seriously, why are there still people who want the Start Menu back? I'm not a proponent of the Metro apps but I don't see anything wrong with the Start Screen. I can't think of anything the Start Menu could do that I can't do now with the Start Screen. Anyone?
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