Microsoft has announced Windows 8.1 is now available to download across the world as a free update for Windows 8.
Windows 8.1 can be downloaded now free on Windows 8 devices directly from the Windows Store, with new devices and boxed software launching tomorrow, October 18.
Although Microsoft has announced global availability for Windows 8.1, it is a staged software rollout, meaning you may not see the upgrade option on your PC until later today.
Anyone using Windows 7 that wishes to upgrade to 8.1 will have to wait until tomorrow, when the boxed software becomes available. You’ll be required to buy a Windows 8.1 DVD for $119.99 (around £75) or a Windows 8.1 Pro DVD for for $199.99 (approx. £125).
UK pricing for the Windows 8.1 software has yet to be announced, so Microsoft may be charging more for its new desktop OS than the above pricing.
READ MORE: Everything you need to know about Windows 10
If you’re running Windows Vista or XP you won’t be able to skip directly to Windows 8.1 though. You’ll have to buy Windows 8 to begin with, which offers the free Windows 8.1 upgrade anyway. Windows 8 is priced at £99.99, Windows 8 Pro is £189.99 and the student Pro option is £49.99 if you qualify.
Windows 8.1 Features
Microsoft claims Windows 8.1 “brings a variety of new features and improvements to Windows 8”, the majority of which are based on customer feedback.
Windows 8.1 reintroduces a semblance of the Start button, although it’s not quite as like the Windows 7 offering as many hoped.
The new OS update allows you to employ more background designs and colours as well as variable Live Tiles sizes.
You can now choose whether to start Windows 8.1, either with the Start screen or the traditional Windows desktop.
The multitasking functionality has also been improved so you can now run four apps simultaneously in the same window.
These are only some of the new Windows 8.1 features, but it should offer increased usability over the existing Windows 8 OS.