TechCrunch points out that Windows 8.1 will begin rolling out to current Windows 8 users on Thursday at 4 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time. The update will bring a number of improvements including a variety of tile sizes, an improved Windows Store, the semi-return of the Start button, the ability to boot to desktop (finally), Internet Explorer 11 and more. The launch is an attempt to "reboot" the Windows 8 platform, and lead the way to other platform changes and additions in the near future.
"As I walk down the hallway in my office this week I see a lot of smiles from people on the team who are excited about their hard work finally making it into customers’ hands," states Microsoft's executive vice president of operating systems, Terry Myerson. "This week we’ve got some great things coming for Windows and Windows Phone customers. On Thursday, Windows 8.1 will be globally available, and we also announced the third update to Windows Phone 8, coming soon to Windows Phone customers."
"If you’re already running Windows 8, download 8.1 tomorrow to see the new Windows, which brings you one experience for everything in your life," he adds. "And if you’re in the market for a new device, keep an eye out for the great new Windows devices that will be on store shelves this holiday season: from affordable phones, 8” tablets and touch PCs to high-end devices, there’s a Windows device for you."
The new update will allow customers to turn their Windows 8.1 wireless enabled laptop or tablet into a hotspot, eliminating the need for third-party applications. The update will also make Windows 8 more mouse-friendly as well, a welcome feature given that a lot of Microsoft's customers are still treading along with the old-school mouse and keyboard method. New apps are expected to arrive as well including a Calculator, a Sound Recorder, new Alarm features and more.
"Windows 8.1 with IE 11 introduces support for live tile notifications when you pin your favorite web sites," states Rob Mauceri, group program manager for Internet Explorer. "Your pinned sites can now be alive with activity, pulling data directly from the websites so your Start screen is updated with the latest posts, scores or stocks – information from the Web right on your Start screen. Together with the Start screen team in Windows, we designed the live tile support for sites to enable all the same tile sizes and layouts that apps enjoy."
As TechCrunch points out, tonight marks the calm before the storm. Tomorrow we will find out if Windows 8.1 is heading in the right direction, or will just turn even more customers away. Microsoft has a lot riding on this update – seemingly the fate of the PC market long dominated by Windows. With Android, Chrome OS and Ubuntu crouched in the bushes waiting to strike, Microsoft had better produce a golden egg with Windows 8.1.
For an outline of what's to come tomorrow, check out Pocket-lint's list here.