The company has finally confirmed that 8.1 has reached the RTM development stageOctober 18, while Windows 8 adopters will be allowed to download it free of charge from the Store. MSDN and TechNet subscribers will get it on October 18 as well.
The operating system is set to bring lots of changes to the rather disappointing Windows 8, including a Start button that’s supposed to make the whole platform a lot more familiar for users migrating from an older platform, such as Windows XP, Vista, or 7.
Even though it’s back, the Start button does not launch a Start Menu, but instead it launches the Start screen that has often been criticized by Windows 8 adopters.
Microsoft claims that the Start screen is a very helpful replacement for the standard menu, pretty much because it shows all the apps on the screen and lets you initiate a search by simply starting typing.
At the same time, Microsoft is also expecting Windows 8.1 to spawn a completely new wave of touchscreen devices, including hybrids, tablets, and notebooks, all of which are supposed to bring the key features of the operating system in the spotlight.
Word is that the company is even working on the second-generation Surface tablet that could be unveiled in October, together with the operating system.
“Windows 8.1 continues the vision we began with Windows 8 and is an example of our commitment to continuous innovation and improvement for our customers,” Microsoft’s Brandon LeBlanc said in a public announcement in mid-August.