Ever since June, Windows 8 users have been able to try out the future with the Windows 8.1 preview. The updated OS brings with it a wealth of improvements, but there are still more features missing from the beta that the final build will provide. The question now is when we'll actually get that the final build of Windows 8.1.
ZDNet reports that the final build of Windows 8.1 is nearly complete, and will be released to consumers in October. I predicted just as much when Microsoft announced last month that it would ship the final Windows 8.1 OS to OEMs in August. According to the most recent report, Microsoft is on track to deliver its latest OS to its hardware partners in the last week of August.
Interestingly enough, the report also mentions that Microsoft won't be making Windows 8.1 available to its MSDN or TechNet subscribers before general availability. Previous incarnations of Windows, including Windows 8, became available to MSDN subscribers shortly after the RTM versions go to OEMs. This is usually to allow its developer partners to start building apps ahead of the public release, but the incremental update nature of Windows 8.1 may have facilitated this change in policy.
Either way, it's looking like developers and consumers alike will be getting the final version of Windows 8.1 at some point in the middle of October. At that time, Microsoft and its hardware partners will release new hardware sporting Windows 8.1 into the market. Some of that hardware will include the cheap 7 and 8-inch tablets that Microsoft and its hardware partners hope will convince users to jump on the Windows 8 bandwagon.
Of course, there's also the rumor that Microsoft will be releasing updated Surface tablets this year. The launch of Windows 8.1 would be as good of a date as any to launch, but it's hard to say when Microsoft will be getting its hands dirty in the tablet market again. It's current Surface tablets aren't exactly flying off store shelves, even with a price drop. That being said, a refocused marketing effort not tied to dance moves, but instead productivity, would do wonders for the brand.