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Name of OS is also confirmed

Until now, we knew (officially) that an unnamed successor to Windows 8 would enter Release Preview testing next month at Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFTBUILD Conference.  Now that unnamed release has received an official title.  

At JP Morgan & Chase Comp.'s (JPM) Media and Telecom conference today Windows chief financial officer Tami Reller confirmed rumors that the upcoming OS, codenamed Windows Blue, would be christened "Windows 8.1".

More importantly, the update -- which reportedly will allow users to boot to desktop, return some semblance of the Start button (albeit one that dumps users into Metro), and include better mouse support in Metro -- will be offered for free to Windows 8 customers.  The update will be distributed via the Windows Store.

OEMs are hopeful the update will revive floundering PC sales.  Q1 2013 marked the worse percentage drop in PC unit sales in history.

Tami Reller
Tami Reller announced today that Windows 8.1 will be free. [Image Source: Microsoft News]

Tami Reller yet again addressed Microsoft's sentiments on another key topic -- Windows RT.  Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KSC:005930), The Lenovo Group, Ltd. (HKG:0992), Dell Inc. (DELL), and Acer Inc. (TPE:2357) -- have attacked the OS [1][2][3][4] have all attacked complaining about its lack of legacy compatibility and Microsoft's poor marketing of the platform.  Many of these OEMs have refused to release Windows RT products, sinking sales to an anemic 200,000 tablets in Q1 2013.  But Microsoft, like its hardware partners Qualcomm, Inc. (QCOM) and NVIDIA Corp. (NVDA) [1][2][3], is standing clearly behind the platform.

In a statement at the conference Ms. Reller stated, "We need the flexibility of ARM"

Windows RT
Microsoft is standing behind its ARM product, looking to new form factors.
[Image Source: TalkVietnam]

There may be relief in sight for Windows on ARM (WOA), aka Windows RT.  One of the improvements Windows 8.1 is expected to bring is UI adjustments to accommodate 7- and 8-inch displays.  The explosion of this lower-priced segment helped propel another struggling tablet platform -- Google Inc.'s (GOOG) Android -- from a bit player to a serious contender, with designs like the Samsung Galaxy Tab,, Inc. (AMZN) Kindle Fire, and ASUSTek Computer, Inc. (TPE:2357) Google-branded Nexus 7 tablet.

There's not much Microsoft can do about the legacy compatibility issue, other than to try to foster the growth of ARM-compatible apps in the Windows Store.  But hopefully Microsoft improves its educational efforts, both in general on how to use Windows 8 (for new users) and the differences between Windows 8/8.1 and RT (for potential ARM device buyers).

Source: Microsoft

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Start button is a minor problem
By oldabelincoln on 5/14/2013 4:22:25 PM , Rating: 2
Let's hope they address the real "screw the desktop" issue - control of the appearance of the various desktop elements, formerly easy to do, almost trivial, and now locked down and mostly impossible. For example, window titlebar and taskbar colors are now linked. If you want a green window title bar and a light gray takbar, you are out of luck as the colors of these elements are now linked. Worse, title bar text is unconditionally black and taskbar text is unconditionally white. Text sizes are now limited and icon text fonts cannot be changed.

All this might possibly make sense for a target demographic of novice tablet users, but is absurd for experienced desktop users who have been able to easily change most aspects of the UI elements color, text font and text size for the last 12 years. All this has no effect on tablet Metro users, making this lockdown even more pointless.

RE: Start button is a minor problem
By inighthawki on 5/14/2013 6:01:50 PM , Rating: 2
For example, window titlebar and taskbar colors are now linked. If you want a green window title bar and a light gray takbar, you are out of luck as the colors of these elements are now linked

You mean like back during windows 98?

RE: Start button is a minor problem
By oldabelincoln on 5/14/2013 6:56:12 PM , Rating: 2
...and Windows for Workgroups 3.11 and Windows NT 3.1 and Windows 95 and Windows NT 3.51 and Windows NT 4.0 and - as you mentioned - Windows 98 and Windows 2000 and Windows XP and Windows Vista and Windows 7.

I never tried Windows before 3.11, or any of the 98 or ME versions, so I can't speak for those except to assume that you are correct about 98 having the same simple, convenient facilities as the others.

By inighthawki on 5/14/2013 7:36:14 PM , Rating: 3
The ability to adjust the window color separately from the taskbar has only been available via the classic theme. As of XP and above the taskbar has always been the same color when using the primary system theme. I for one say good riddance to that terrible old UI. I hate the new desktop theme in Win8 with the solid flat colors, but the classic theme was much worse.

"We don't know how to make a $500 computer that's not a piece of junk." -- Apple CEO Steve Jobs

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