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Windows 8.1 release date set for October

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Windows 8.1
Windows 8.1

Microsoft will launch its latest desktop and tablet OS, Windows 8.1, this October according to a well-sourced report.

Mary Jo Foley of ZDNet has a track record of extracting accurate tips from her Microsoft sources, and she has heard some more on the launch of Windows 8.1.

Microsoft is apparently on track to 'release to manufacturing' (RTM) by the end of August - that is, to send final versions of Windows 8.1 to laptop and tablet makers for them to install on their products.

Still, one tipster reckons that Microsoft is going to hold off on actually making the OS refresh available to consumers for another six weeks or so, choosing to launch Windows 8.1 in mid-October.

That's both the date of both the general availability of Windows 8.1 to existing PC owners, and the date you'll be able to go into a shop and buy a device pre-installed with the OS.

Even with this apparent delay between Windows 8.1 being technically ready and it going to market, it will still have been almost exactly a year since the general availability of Windows 8, which is an impressive turn-around by Microsoft standards. It took three years between the launches of Windows 7 and Windows 8.

This extra time between RTM and release could also be used by Microsoft to identify and fix any lingering bugs.

Windows 8.1 is expected to add the much-missed start button, though it'll be a largely cosmetic addition rather than a return to its previous menu-access function. It'll also add new native apps, including a Bing-powered search engine.

Expect support for the running of four simultaneous apps, which is up from two, and many more tweaks and improvements.

Next, read Windows 8.1 features - what's new?

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