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Microsoft Announces Windows 8.1 OEM Release in Late August

In an announcement made during today's Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference keynote in Houston, Tami Reller, CFO and chief marketing officer of the Windows Division said that PC makers will get access to the final Windows 8.1 code in late August.

Windows 8.1 is a substantial upgrade to Windows 8, which shipped in late October 2012. Windows 8.1 will be free for users who already have Windows 8 and will be delivered via download from the Windows Store.

Key new features among the hundreds of changes in Windows 8.1 include a Start button, more flexibility on Start Tile sizes, improved search, tighter integration with the Microsoft SkyDrive cloud storage service and optimization for portrait mode. A consumer preview of Windows 8.1 became available a few weeks ago, during Microsoft's Build conference.

The late-August delivery will make the update available as a download for PCs bought for back-to-school but probably won't give OEMs a chance to build 8.1-optimized machines until the holiday buying period.

Reller did not provide any guidance on timing for general availability of Windows 8.1 in the Windows Store.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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