Windows 8.1 has spent the past few months being primed and prepared for its October 17th release date. With build number 9600 now confirmed as the Release to manufacturing (RTM), the process of assembling Windows 8.1 for public consumption is almost complete. With Windows 8.1 now getting its RTM, the stage is set for a new wave of corresponding products. Windows 8 may only have hit the market last October, but with a wider target market including post-PC devices such as tablets, the software maker is changing its release cycle to offer more regular, incremental updates. The days of waiting four or more years for a new version of Windows appear over. Although some may presume Windows 8.1 is merely a Service Pack with a slightly more extravagant name, it’s long list of new features and performance enhancements mean that it’s quite a bit more than that.
Microsoft disclosed the details of the Windows 8.1 RTM, including the build number 9600 and while no announcement has yet been officially made, the company is expected to reveal Windows 8.1 Release to Manufacturing at some point next week. The next step is to begin shipping to vendors of Windows 8 devices, where it will be pre-installed for new devices shipping from October 18th. If you’re already in ownership of a Windows 8 PC or device, you’ll probably already be aware that Windows 8.1 will be a free update from the Windows Store. Initially, Microsoft may charge a small fee for the update, but current Windows 8 users will not have to pay for the privilege of using the new features.
One of the key new features of the Windows 8.1 update is the reintroduction of the old Start Button. While users have begun to adapt to the new interface, it will be nice to have an air of familiarity about proceedings once Windows 8.1 rears its head. Having been tailored for mid-size tablets as well, we’re expecting a flurry of exciting new devices to be unveiled over the next couple of months, particularly with IFA looming.