Microsoft Windows Blue Officially Named Windows 8.1, Offered As Free Download

Microsoft on Monday revealed that Windows Blue will be officially named Windows 8.1.

The tech giant also announced that the software pack will be made available as a free update to users of Windows 8 via the Windows Store.

Microsoft will debut the public preview of Windows 8.1 for Windows 8 and Windows RT in June with the public release to follow at an undisclosed time.

The public preview will be available for download starting June 26, and that download will coincide with the Build developer conference in San Francisco. The download will be available for Windows 8 and Windows RT customers.

The Microsoft Windows Blue build has leaked online in recent months, and it features some much needed improvements. The new build appears to offer better multitasking, deeper integration with SkyDrive, updates to the OS’ side Charms, and a better selection of LiveTile colors and sizes.

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Microsoft is expected to bring back the Start Button in some form, although no leaks of that button have been revealed at this time. The Start button being removed from the current Windows 8 setup has been one of the company’s biggest consumer complaints.

On the official Windows blog Microsoft says the Windows 8.1 retail release will be made available “later this year.” That time frame appears to match comments made by chief marketing officer and chief financial officer Tami Reller last week.

Microsoft, in the meantime, is promising sub-8 inch display support for Windows 8 in the near future, a move that could allow Microsoft to more closely compete with Apple, Samsung, Google, Amazon, and other small-sized tablet manufacturers.

Will you be updating to the Microsoft Windows 8.1 platform when it is made available for download?