DigiTimes provided a double-shot of Windows 8 goodness on Thursday, first reporting that Windows 8.1 is estimated to launch in late October. We already speculated this would be the timeframe when Microsoft's update would hit the masses, but sources "related to ODMs" offered their two cents nonetheless. An October release schedule would seemingly keep the platform on a tight yearly refresh given Windows 8 launched on October 26, 2012.
However, these sources believe that Windows 8.1 won’t be enough to push large numbers of new hardware sales, citing some nonsense about how current users can take advantage of third-party apps like Start8 to modify the interface and features. For current Windows 8 customers, the upgrade will be completely free – how the updated platform will push sales later this year will depend on how it's advertised.
But these sources do point out that Microsoft will need to drop its Windows 8 licensing even lower if the company wants to make a major, positive impact on the consumer market this fall. Microsoft is reportedly providing licensing subsidies for products with display sizes 11.6-inches and below. Thus, ODMs producing slightly larger notebooks are having a hard time competing with those products on a price level.
Launching Windows 8.1 in October seems to fall in line with Microsoft's former release schedule with Windows 8. The company launched a Consumer Preview on February 29, a meatier Release Preview on May 31, and then the full retail version on October 26. Microsoft plans to launch the Release Preview for Windows 8.1 next month during BUILD 2013 along with a rumored 8-inch Surface tablet.
That's where DigiTimes' second report of the day chimes in. Unnamed sources from supply chain makers in Taiwan claim that an 8-inch Surface will arrive in June followed by a 10.x-inch model as early as 3Q13. The 8-inch model will reportedly use a Nvidia SoC – presumably the Tegra 4 – and a touch panel supplied by Samsung. Taiwan-based ODM Pegatron will be responsible for production.
The details surrounding the 10.x-inch tablet are unclear, but it will be slightly smaller than the current 10.6-inch Surface tablets. It will also arrive once Microsoft has flushed out the current stockpile with deep discounts later this year. Microsoft expects initial monthly shipments of the two new devices to reach one million units, sources said.