According to sources that include Mary Jo Foley, Paul Thurrott, and others, Windows 8.1 Update 1 has been released to OEMs, a milestone usually abbreviated as RTM (for “release to manufacturing” or “release to manufacturers,” a step that lets equipment vendors start building reference images for their Windows 8.1 devices in anticipation of an immanent General Availability, or GA, release). Thurrott tweeted at the end of February that “Windows 8.1 Update 1 will hit MSDN on April 2, Windows Update on April 8.”
Thurrot’s 1/25 screen cap of an early leaked Windows 8.1 Update 1 build.
All this points to upcoming access to a new and keyboard-and-mouse friendlier version of Windows 8, sooner rather than later. I wonder if PC Pro’s recent quote from Joe Belfiore, Microsoft’s VP for Windows Phone, will be enough to breathe more enthusiasm and interest into the ho-hum uptake for Windows 8 versions for far:
“We are making improvements to the user interface that will naturally bridge touch and desktop, especially for our mouse and keyboard users. We have a number of targeted UI improvements that keep our highly satisfying touch experience intact, but that make the UI more familiar and more convenient for users with mouse/keyboard.”
It’s pretty clear that MS is aware that public perceptions of its new flagship OS must improve for Windows 8 to attain a measure of success. It will be interesting to see if the company can truly reverse course, and make Windows 8 less unpalatable to the vast majority of PC users who lack the critical touch interface capabilities previously thought necessary to fully appreciate Windows 8. Hopefully, this means Windows 8 will also gain more traction with business/enterprise users, many of whom are facing a more-or-less-mandatory migration away from Windows XP in light of the upcoming withdrawal of ongoing support on April 8. Surely, that makes the timing of Windows 8.1 Update 1 no coincidence whatsoever.