OEMs Will Get Windows 8.1 In August


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Have you tried out Windows 8.1 yet? Are you a fan? If so, you may be wondering when you can get your hands on the final version. After all, Microsoft has only said it will launch later this year. Well, we now have a better idea of when it might finally be made available.

Today at Microsoft's Worldwide Partners Conference, the company announced that OEMs will get their hands on Windows 8.1 in August. In other words, manufacturers like Asus and HP will be able to get the final release version of Windows 8.1 next month in preparation for the launch of the updated OS.

So, what does that mean for the regular consumer? Well, Windows 8 went out to OEMs in August of last year, but the OS didn't actually launch until October 26. It's likely that a similar plan is in place this year as Microsoft wants to give OEMs plenty of time to produce and test Windows 8 machines. It might even take longer as Windows 8.1 supports smaller display sizes, and manufacturers will want to be out of the gate with small, inexpensive Windows 8.1 tablets.

In other news, Microsoft's Jensen Harris showed off a new demo at its Worldwide Partners Conference. Here's all the new stuff that was revealed:

In [Harris'] demo, he showed off some pretty cool new features and functionality, including how Windows 8.1 is optimized to work great on small-form-factor devices and portrait view. He also demoed the Reading List app that lets you share articles from the web and content from other apps to read later which roams with you across your Windows devices through the cloud courtesy of SkyDrive. And with 20 billion searches on done via Windows PCs each month in the U.S. alone, Jensen highlighted the huge opportunity to build a great search experience into Windows and showed the new search experience in Windows 8.1 which is powered by Bing. He also demoed a different kind of search for music integrated with Xbox Music where you can share a webpage to the Xbox Music app where it “scrapes” the webpage for mentions of songs to create a playlist for you based on the music mentioned on a webpage. And finally, Jensen demoed for the first time new technology built into Windows 8.1 called Miracast that streams HD video and audio over Wi-Fi to another display like a TV. With Surface Pro, he essentially turned a TV into a whiteboard with the OneNote app.

We don't know when Windows 8.1 will launch, but it's looking more and more like a pre-holiday season release. Microsoft needs to push its latest OS upgrade this holiday season, and it needs to get product into stores before November to do so.