Windows 8.1 official release to ship in August

Microsoft will be releasing a "near final" Windows 8.1 for its PC and tablet partners in late August.

The company made the announcement today at its annual Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) in Houston, Texas. Microsoft's Tami Reller, Windows CMO and CFO, disclosed that the company is gearing up to ship the release to manufacturing (RTM) version of the Windows 8.1 to OEM's by the end of next month.

"She [Tami Reller] announced that Windows 8.1 RTM will be available for OEM partners in late August," notes the Windows blog. "We'll have more details to share in the coming months for consumers and other customers on how to get Windows 8.1."

Reller also let on that several Windows-powered devices that will ship this holoday season would pack in the updated software.With the OS set to release in August for OEM's, they would have plenty of time to prepare Window 8.1-powered device in time for this year's busy holiday season.

While Microsoft is set to ship the RTM version of Windows 8.1 to OEM's next month, Reller did not disclose by when the software would make its way to consumers.

However, given Microsoft's previous track record, a strong possibility exists that the company will be ready to ship Windows 8.1 to eager consumers by October.

Microsoft's CEO Steve Ballmer also took the opportunity to highlight the company's progression from just being a software firm to where it stands today.

"Windows has always been more a device than a piece of software; it defined a class of device called the PC," said Ballmer at WPC, referring to tablets, connvertibles, all-in-ones, and other devices. "We need our partners to come with us in this journey."

On June 26 this year, Microsoft released a public preview of Windows 8.1, which let users try out the software before it is officially pushed out in its final form. Now with the RTM gearing up for a release, there are no more test builds or previews.

Microsoft has previously revealed that it will make Windows 8.1 available to all Windows 8 and Windows RT users (via the Windows Store) as a free upgrade.

Windows 8.1 will bring back the Start button and address other issues as well, as it is Microsoft's attempt to fix the damage caused by Windows 8.

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