Microsoft talks about Windows 8.1 "Blue" update, public preview available in June

Microsoft took the opportunity at the JP Morgan Technology, Media & Telecom conference today to talk about Windows 8.1 (or "Windows Blue" as it has been referred as). The update will be dished out to consumers for free, which is music to ears after the heavy discount Microsoft had in place for Windows 8 when the operating system launched last year.

Tami Reller reiterated the company's goal of delivering continual updates, billed with creating a richer experience for consumers. So when can you expect to be able to update? Starting June 26th, a public preview of Windows 8.1 will be made available. We'll have more information on the event and what's included within the package at this year's Build event.

Source: Windows Blog

Rich Edmonds
Senior Editor, PC Build

Rich Edmonds was formerly a Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.

  • They need to pick up the pace, and how.
  • Didn't window 8 come out about 7 months ago? How fast do you want them to go? Or would you rather them do a rush job and have a very buggy update?
  • Pick up the pace? Lol there is a new Windows version every 6 months... Used to be 2 years
  • Re picking up the pace.... Unlike Google, MS developes long-term strategies and designs for future development and feature integration as well as 3rd party API support, etc.
    They don't rush undeveloped code and UI changes every 6 months only to make them obsolete with the next revision.
    MS needs to have great leadership and think ahead in order to win.
    Developers and users will get tired of Google's whims and lack of focus and seek stability with MS and Apple.
  • ^+1000
  • What q21701 said. There is a limit to this idea of free for all development aka open source coding. Without rules you got chaos. Its gonna hit google hard sooner or later.
  • Well said!
  • also we need to keep in ming that majority of MS revenue comes from enterprise customers & its not easy for enterprise to upgrade systems, it is easy for personal systems.
  • That's the problem for MS, people used to be fine with a 3 year gap between versions of Windows. Indeed for organisations that was often too fast and they would skip a generation. "Kids" these days want new toys every week.
    Some people complain about the 925/928 because they "just" got a 920. Others are excited and are ditching their "3 month OLD" 920s.
    Damned if you do, damned if you don't.
    Personally I'm impressed they've moved to one year cycles and have point releases inbetween for individual apps. They are a half-way house between a startup and a massive corp. So a company you can rely on for business, but delivering frequent updates.
  • I wonder if, and how MS will provide 8.1 betas to Surface RT and other RT tablets?
  • As a firmware update, I would assume. The real question is, will RT tablets get the preview or will we have to wait?
  • The bigger question is, will they open up the desktop? In my opinion, they should.
  • How do i put this.... no. :)
  • They shouldn't. They should make the RT Metro Apps as feature rich  as their Desktop counterparts. Yes I am looking at you  Windows Mail.
    They also need Visio, and MS Project. Its not a work tool until they get that.
  • I'd go the other way, I think they should remove the desktop entirely from RT. Stop calling it "Windows". Make Office Touch available from the store and remove the desktop version thus lowering the price and making it more competitive with Android tablets and the iPad. Most people don't need Office, just browse, email and play games, make Office optional. Proper "Modern" file manager and other apps so people no longer need the desktop.
    A $200-300 Microsoft Surface tablet would stop people buying garbage Android tablets. (I have an Android tablet, it's fun, it's not really garbage - but a Surface with greater functionality would wipe the floor with it).
    $400+ for Microsoft Surface with Windows for professionals.
    So instead Windows RT & Windows 8 have MS Surface and MS Surface with Windows. Slightly less confusing.
    Not really anything to do with WP mind you...
  • Last sentence of the blog post that is linked in this article. "The preview will be available for Windows 8 and Windows RT." It will be downloadable through the Store.
  • Two words desperately waiting to hear at Microsoft Build Conference this June, for BOTH Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1
  • +720
  • +920
  • THIS! Its the only reason i didn't switch to WP yet !!!
  • ew. no.
  • If it's done right then a notification centre would be a great addition to WP, I'm thinking a swipe to the right on the Start Screen is the best way to go.
  • I would only accept anotification center if it only showed the most recent notification and a notification count for each app. I loathe notification centers for one thing: excessive notifications. For someone like me, that thing would be chock full of twitter notifications day in and day out. Thats why i disabled notifications last time i used an android device. I hated having 40+ notifications, each one requiring manual clearing. And thats just one app.
    Notifications accumulate. So unless they limit the NC to 1 recent notification per app and a number count (similar to live tiles) for all the rest for the same app, im gonna hate it. And it needs to be designed well. Not just text on a white/black background. Something more like this:
  • Are we serious right now? Do we really have to discuss the obvious stuff like turning off the Notifications for a specific App? You are extremely popular on Twitter and/or any other App, simply turn off notifications for this App and thats it.
  • But i WANT notifications for the app.
    My point is: Notifications for the app are relevant, but not any more help than being off at 40+ notifications. And im not popular, but i carry full conversations on twitter at times.
    Frankly, thats why i like my Windows Phone. I dont need notifications (and thankfully, toasts arent overly abused unlike other OSes). My me tile tells me when i have mentions. I tap my tile, it takes me to my me page on the People hub, where i proceed to go through those mentions.
    So, if WP gets an NC, i feel it should be sort of a "start screen" for toasts, of sorts, where 1 toast is displayed per app, which contains most recent toast content and a number by the icon indicating the number of notifications. Heck, i would be ok if each notification EXPANDED into the full list of notifications for that app on another "page" within the NC. But i loathe the thought of having an NC for the sake of having an NC. Its not needed. Could it be useful on WP? Definitely, if done correctly. But unless your most important apps are not pinned to the homescreen, or do not contain a live tile, its not any more useful.
    In fact, developers utilize toasts less then live tiles, meaning the Notification center would have less use than the start screen. Soit would take more work from developers to make use of the Notification center (by using toasts) then it would to make use of the live tiles.
    In summary, a notification center is a people apeaser. People still are not used to the way Windows Phone woks completely and are asking for a feature that in a real world scenario would make very little sense on the OS its being asked for. Again, little, not none. There are certain use cases where its useful, and again, if kept clean of clutter and done uniquely and differently from other Notification Centers, can be of use to people. But its not needed, plain and simple.
  • +620
  • Notification centre's are like Marmite, love it or hate it. There's really no point arguing over their validity anymore, it's been done to death. MS should add it, but make it optional. That's always been the beauty of Windows, options, WP is a little too stripped down in places, they need to give users a bit more choice on things.
  • Windows Phone has been my first smartphone so, I don't know what to expect from a notification center lol.
  • That's my bday!
  • is the wp8.1 the gdr 2 they were talking about or is it a seperate update ????
  • Completely different. Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 (most likely it will be called that way) will be a major/huge update.
  • Let's hope it will be anyway.
  • Ah cool had an idea it would be like that, Thanks for the quick reply !!, Do you think there will be a preview release for wp8 similar to win 8 ?
  • Don't think so. They also did not preview the WP7.5 and W.P7.8 ahead of time. I think the WP8.1 will come pre-installed in new devices then they will make it available to the general public for download OEM by OEM, Carrier by Carrier, and phone model by phone model.
  • How easy will it be to go from preview to final version of 8.1? There was lots of confusion about that last year regarding 8.
  • My guess is a preview will be available in the windows store, since it will be available only for Windows 8 & Windows Runtime (RT) users. Last year, the previews were full blown OS installs, while this seems more like a major update. I assume, once 8.1 Final is released, users on both 8 & 8.1 Preview will be able to download the finished version via the Windows Store. Think Mac OSx, only free instead of $20.
  • You think the public preview will be in the store? Interesting. That would make so many people do it.
  • exactly. Plus, how else would they limit the preview to Windows 8 & RT users (not to mention, how else are RT users going to get the preview, since they dont work like regular computers?)? If they made a downloadable upgrade installer (like 8 and its previews), that could be tricky, user unfriendly, and people would eventually find a way to use it to get Windows 8.1 in iso form, thus cirumventing microsoft (Note that 8.1 is free for Windows 8 and RT users. {"...Windows 8.1 and will be a free update to Windows 8 for consumers through the Windows Store." -WindowsBlog} Translation: 7 and under users still have to pay) And since 8.1 will be arriving via the store, its logical to assume the preview, still being an update to 8 & RT, will do the same.  
  • Duh, RT, only option is the Store.
  • @ Dustin Hodges
    Windows RT does not now, nor has it ever, stood for Windows Runtime. WinRT AKA Windows Runtime is a cross platform architecture used by both Windows RT and Windows 8.Please check your facts and stop referring to Windows RT by a confusing misnomer that conflates the OS name and an OS component.
  • I knew this, but thanks for pointing out my mistake. however Windows RT is named after WinRT. I meant to say RT, but accidentally said Runtime. Frankly, MS should rename it (Windows Touch? Windows Tablet? Windows Basic? something else.) since its confusing enough as it is for most people.
  • I have my doubts the preview of 8.1 will be made available in the Windows Store. I think they will create a special site for it where people can download it for testing. However, after the testing period is over and it becomes ready to be pushed out to the general public, then it will probably be available at the Windows Store.
  • I wold love if they rebranded the current zune desktop software so it works with wp8. I miss syncing my media wirelessly as well getting that metadata.
  • They should do this and make a Modern UI version. Call it "Music+Video", similar to Windows Phone. XBOX Music and XBOX Videos suck, and the Sync app is poor (not to mention crappy for Podcasts. Seriously? We need an Apple product {iTunes} to sync podcasts properly? Microsoft, what were you thinking?)
  • the most important thing its free
  • Yes. No more $200 windows. Not even $15 (like i got with the new PC promotion last year). Just free. :)
  • Yes, it's great that it's for free to those who have Windows 8 and Windows RT devices. Hopefully it will silence all MS haters who are saying M$ will charge for the 8.1 update (Then again, maybe not). Of course if you're upgrading from W7 or WXP, then you need to pay for the W8.1 OS.
  • It would be nice if they could just update the names of their services! On my WP 7.8 phone, you can set up Hotmail or Windows Live Mail. The Outlook choice is only for Exchange. Had to figure out how to set up an account on my own. I still haven't figures it out for the Windows 8 mail app.
  • Windows Phone 8 has the updated names. It seems 7.8 forgoed rebrandings. (Music+Video is still Zune, Not XBOX). And the Windows 8 Mail App sets up hotmail/outlook mail via your Microsoft account you have linked to your user account. Exchange is added via settings (through the charms bar), and may require additional settings depending on your exchange server (i got it set up eventually)
  • F-R-double-E FREE?! Microsoft I HEART you!! Yay!
  • I got Windows 8 Pro last year for $15 only. Upgrading to 8.1 for free is awsome news. I hope the update introduces some interesting functionalities and features.
  • Full Split screen Modern UI multitasking, full fledged PC Settings app, 1024x768resolution support, and more customization features are coming, if they were not removed since one of the leaked beta versions.
  • Hopefully this will get people to stop spreading BS about Windows Blue unifying Windows 8 and Windows Phone. That stupid rumor has been treated as fact for far too long, including by some of the editors and staff around here. Windows Blue, as clealy defined today, is a major .x update for Windows 8 and Windows RT.  While there is also a 8.1 update for Windows Phone, it is not part of some grand roll out of a unified OS, nor have they ever said it would be. It should, hopefully, also be clear to people that they really are not even on the same schedule for release.
  • actually, it is. Windows Phone 8 is using a modified version of the Windows Runtime (WinRT) featured in Windows 8 and Windows RT (named after the runtime), called Windows Phone Runtime (WinPRT). Microsoft has been trying to make a "develop once' scenario to make it easy to develop between Windows Phone and Windows 8 w/o rewriting lots of code. Not to mention, Windows 8.1 AND Windows Phone 8.1 both have been under the same code name ("Blue"). So even though its speculation, not fact, that Blue will unify the OSes, its not BS either. In fact, how does "this" (the article) stop people from spreading what you call BS? It says nothing about Windows Phone 8.1 nor what is included within Windows 8.1. In fact, the only talk of updates in the news as of late for Windows Phone are one of the GDR's (i cant remember if its 1 or 2), which will be released before WP8.1. So its not fact fact, but its not BS either, and its been seemingly, subtly (and not so subtly) implied by Microsoft, despite not outright saying it. [EDIT] Also, you expect a company to shift from a 3 - 5 year cycle to a yearly cycle and release all updates on the same schedule? They are not magicians you know. Its gonna take them a year or 2 to get up to speed. Releasing months apart from each other, going from what they were at, is pretty good. So the schedule thing doesnt prove anything either. It just says microsoft isn't a miracle worker.
  • Couldn't care less about notification centre as don't use Facebook or any social thing enough to want one all i want to be able to do is tether to my ps3 and xbox i mean seriously wtf were they thinking of sort it out ms
  • Damn I am still on W8 RP!
  • There is no way T-Mobile can ignore this update.  Storage check here I come! 
  • I believe this update applies to Windows 8, not Windows Phone 8 haha.
  • If I understand correctly this is going to be the "blue" update.  I may have misread or misunderstood, but Blue is supposed to be a Windows wide update.  Or I might be just covering my ass for posting in the wrong article.  Take your pick and laugh.