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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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RE: Excellent Move.
By Motoman on 5/14/2013 4:46:45 PM , Rating: 3
Yeah, but still...

which reportedly will allow users to boot to desktop

That's very positive.

return some semblance of the Start button (albeit one that dumps users into Metro)

That's very negative, and crucially doesn't fix anything. They've managed to break the Start button in the process of turning it back on.

Just stop f%cking around already and do what any sane person would do - put the normal Start menu and desktop back in, without any further molestation thereof.

RE: Excellent Move.
By 91TTZ on 5/14/2013 5:02:44 PM , Rating: 3
Just stop f%cking around already and do what any sane person would do - put the normal Start menu and desktop back in, without any further molestation thereof.

Microsoft is hesitant to do this because they're trying to promote their whole mobile initiative. They want Windows sales to directly lead to Windows Phone and Surface sales. I agree with you that this is horrible for the desktop, but Microsoft is trying to corral users into this new ecosystem that they heavily invested in. It's just not working.

RE: Excellent Move.
By Kefner on 5/14/2013 5:39:21 PM , Rating: 2
Thank goodness for Start8 and 8gadgetpack, installed both first day I got my PC, and it's been basically the same as Win 7. So, the new Start button will just be a dump to metro? I've already done that by pinning the metro icon onto my task bar, so nothing new there for me. Now I just hope it doesn't "break" Start8 or 8gadgetpack!!! :)

RE: Excellent Move.
By BRB29 on 5/15/2013 8:24:48 AM , Rating: 2
uninstall it and update. I'm sure there will be an update for Start8 for 8.1

RE: Excellent Move.
By seeker353 on 5/16/2013 12:28:51 PM , Rating: 2
Seriously, they can keep the Start Button if they're not bringing back the old Start Menu. If all it does it drop you into Metro, then what's the point? You can already move the mouse to where the Start Button used to be, click, and enter Metro.

"If you look at the last five years, if you look at what major innovations have occurred in computing technology, every single one of them came from AMD. Not a single innovation came from Intel." -- AMD CEO Hector Ruiz in 2007

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