Microsoft's upcoming update to Windows 8.1 is reportedly in the RTM (release-to-manufacturing) stage, suggesting a consumer release is imminent. According to separate corroborating reports, the Redmond company has signed off on the update, and has begun to send it out to PC and tablet OEMs. Once testing is finished, manufacturers will then install it on their machines, hopefully in time for an early April release, when Microsoft is holding its Build developers' conference.
The update to Windows 8.1 is expected to introduce a lot of traditional desktop elements to Microsoft's post-PC environment. For example, the company is allegedly focusing on making its Metro UI more friendly on non-touchscreen devices, with the ability to pin apps to the desktop task bar—and more. Other possible additions may include shutdown and search buttons on the Start Screen, and a toolbar at the top of apps with minimize and close buttons.
Unfortunately, a report from early February claimed Microsoft wouldn't actually make Windows 8.1 machines boot to desktop by default, though that option will still be there should users want to skip the tiled interface. While the update isn't expected to be a huge sea change, it appears Microsoft is intent on combining the ethos of a traditional desktop with something more modern. Whether it'll attract more users to upgrade remains to be seen. We should find out come April.