Microsoft will finally release the Windows 8.1 update on October 17. The digital download becomes available at midnight New Zealand time (we’re not sure why that time was chosen)—that’s 4 a.m Pacific and 7 a.m. Eastern. Physical copies of the update will go on sale starting on August 18, while the company’s manufacturing partners are expected to receive the new software later this month ahead of the official launch.
Windows 8.1 won’t bring a total overhaul to the current desktop UI, despite non-stop complaints from critics of the OS. Instead, the update should fix some lingering issues with Windows 8, while addressing a number of users requests and introducing a host of new features and apps. Windows 8.1 makes it easier than ever to switch between the classic desktop interface and the new live tiles, lets you set the desktop as your default landing page, and even brings back the Home button that’s glaringly missing from Windows 8.
Microsoft announced the big Windows 8.1 news today on the official Windows blog, highlighting several key improvements to the operating system The new software includes added personalization, Internet Explorer 11, more built-in apps, an improved Windows Store and enhanced cloud connectivity through SkyDrive. Oh, and of course, the start menu is back and you can boot directly into Windows. If you can’t wait until October to download Windows 8.1, you can always check out the preview that’s been available since June.