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Windows 8 "Blue" update will actually be Windows 8.1 – a free update

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May 14, 2013

Microsoft announced that the Windows 8 Blue update will be called 8.1, and will be free

Microsoft announced that the Windows 8 Blue update will be called 8.1, and will be free

If you’ve been holding your breath waiting for the long-rumored Windows 8 “Blue” update, you might be able to exhale soon. Microsoft still hasn’t officially broken down the new features in the update, but it does now have a name and a price: "Windows 8.1," and "free."

This update has been a hot topic of the rumor mill as customers rail against some of the changes Microsoft tried to force with Windows 8. A Windows Phone-esque Start Screen is great for a tablet or hybrid touch PC. But on a traditional desktop or laptop PC, operated with a mouse and keyboard? You know, the kind that still dominates Microsoft’s userbase? Not so much.

That’s why previous rumors have pointed to the update scaling back on the push towards touch. If you believe those whispers, then we’re looking at a Windows 8.1 that will give you back a start menu of some sort, and will let you boot straight into the desktop. In other words, a breath of fresh air for long-time Windows users.

An apology ... and a blame?

So today we have Microsoft’s Tami Reller telling us about the update that extends Microsoft’s vision, but also “addresses customer feedback.” Primo Microsoft blogger Paul Thurrott might have phrased it best, when he half-jokingly branded Blue as “an apology.”

In the same breath, though, Microsoft is still pushing for PC makers to make more devices with touchscreens. Do you get the sense that Redmond isn't completely owning up to the ho-hum reception to Windows 8?

Maybe it's a chicken-or-egg scenario, but – apart from the Surface Pro – customers haven't shown much interest in Windows-based tablets, touch laptops, and convertibles. If customers aren't asking for something, I'm not sure if making more of them is going to change that.

More details

The update – which will be for both Windows 8 and RT – is also expected to open the door to smaller tablets. Will Windows-running Nexus 7 and iPad mini competitors be enough to lift Microsoft's mobile fortunes? This should be interesting.

Reller didn’t narrow down a release window for Blue, but a public preview will be dropping on June 26. And the free part, of course, only applies to owners of Windows 8. We’ll be hearing more from Microsoft on 8.1 in the coming weeks.

Sources: Wall Street Journal, Paul Thurrott’s Windows SuperSite [1] [2]

About the Author
Will Shanklin Will Shanklin is Gizmag's Mobile Tech Editor, and has been part of the team since 2012. Will has a Master's degree from U.C. Irvine and a Bachelor's from West Virginia University. He currently lives in New Mexico with his wife, Jessica.
  All articles by Will Shanklin
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4 Comments

This 'chicken and egg' problem seems more like egg on Microsoft's face. But I remember when I was in the Air Force and they first bought Windows for all the computers in our programming shop. Everyone hated it. The next year they bought us all mice.

MBadgero
15th May, 2013 @ 05:08 am PDT

Instead of making this update Blue for the Windows 8.How about giving us people that has tried the 8 and found that it just doesn't work for what we need.Like a lot of the PC Games that we buy.With Windows 8 we have to download a bunch of stuff like more patches because of errors from the 8.And then after trying these patches find out that the games still don't work.What I am getting at,Is instead of forcing us to continue with 8 give us the change to download XP or 7 for free.I had no choice which Windows to use.It came with my Laptop when I bought it.And if I knew it was going to be a problem like this.I would not have bought the Laptop

Robert Michael Atkinson
28th May, 2013 @ 08:32 am PDT

If you want Windows 7 you can buy it and install it. You can also still buy a laptop with Windows 7. No one forced you to buy that crappy laptop.

Mortimer Klew
29th May, 2013 @ 11:35 am PDT

Why should he have to buy windows 7.

He is not the one that put windows 8 on the laptop DA

Razorhsd
30th May, 2013 @ 11:50 am PDT
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