Windows 8.1 is here: What you need to know

Microsoft has released the final version of Windows 8.1 to consumers. We have all the details.

Microsoft's Windows 8.1, the "do-over" operating system that Microsoft hopes will win back its fan base, is finally here.

Early Thursday night (Australian time) Microsoft published the Windows 8.1 update to the Windows Store within Windows 8, following the OS's release last month to its two IT channels, TechNet and MSDN. There will be no automatic update: Microsoft representatives say consumers must manually visit the Windows Store and download Windows 8.1 themselves.

Do you want it? Absolutely. Although PCWorld's Windows 8.1 review dubs it "the great compromise," Windows 8.1 is chock-full of user-friendly features, updates, and general improvements. We can recommend it unreservedly.

Day one: Read up before downloading

So what should be your plan? First, you need to read our Windows 8.1 survival guide, which provides tips and strategies for upgrading from Windows XP or newer versions to the Windows 8.1 Preview. Then, download or buy Windows 8.1 itself. If you don't own Windows 8, don't despair: Brick-and-mortar stores will begin selling Windows 8.1 on Friday, October 18.

To get up to speed on Windows 8.1, learn about its top selling points and take a tour of its best new features. The new Windows 8.1 apps are a big improvement as well. We even have an upgrade guide for your business--although the vast majority are actually choosing Windows 7.

Ever since Microsoft launched Windows 8 about a year ago, consumers and pundits alike have criticized the company's efforts to bridge Windows from the PC to the tablet. In an attempt to make Windows 8 more accessible, Windows 8.1 adds a boot-to-the-desktop feature, a revamped Apps window, and the ability to tweak its Start page. (Don't like the Start page? You do have alternatives.) The update also has a new Help & Tips app (plus a "secret" app, Movie Moments) to ease the process even further.

For its part, Windows 8.1 represents another opportunity for Microsoft to showcase the latest Windows 8.1 hardware on its website, devices that incorporate touchscreens and new Intel microprocessors.

Hardware to go with the software

"Windows 8.1 will also bring some very innovative new devices for both consumers and businesses, from tablets and 2-in-1s with a perfect mix of mobility and productivity, to new laptops, All-in-Ones and specialized industry devices," Microsoft blogger and evangelist Brandon LeBlanc wrote recently. "Windows 8.1 brings the widest selection of designs at every price point."

With Windows 8.1 done, Windows watchers are already looking forward to what's next. Sources told ZDNet that the next major revision of Windows is due sometime in the spring of 2015, when Microsoft may finally combine Windows RT and Windows Phone into one operating system running on top of the ARM-processor platform. Until then, enjoy Windows 8.1. It's here to stay.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Microsoftoperating systemssoftwareWindowsWindows 8Windows 8.1

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Mark Hachman

Mark Hachman

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?