A preview version of Windows 8.1 has been available since June, and if all goes to plan, word on the web is that the final release will roll into town in October. That's when the general public will be able to nab the download via Windows Update. Prior to that, OEM system builders will receive the update as early as this month, and it's possible some Windows 8.1 machines will show up in retail in September.
Apple's iPad used to own the tablet market, and perhaps by some counts, it still does. The number crunchers at Strategy Analytics, however, have Android sitting on top, and by a pretty wide margin to boot. According to Strategy Analytics, Android secured a 67 percent global share of the tablet market in the first quarter of 2013, a quarter which overall tablet shipments reached 57.1 million units.
There's no use twiddling your thumbs, biting your fingernails, or engaging in other habits you might have while anxiously waiting for a product release. Yes, Windows 8.1 is coming, but you probably won't see the final version before the end of summer, so go ahead and venture outside to catch some sunshine. According to Windows Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Tami Reller, Microsoft will finalize Windows 8.1 in August, at which time it will be made available to PC makers.
It's taken some time, but Windows 8 is now officially more popular than Windows Vista, according to the latest market share data. Furthermore, it doesn't even matter if you put more stock into StatCounter's accounting method or prefer NetApplicaton's approach to tallying market share, both firms are in agreement that Windows 8 is ahead of Vista in usage, if ever so slightly.
Don't expect Windows 8.1 to stop PC sales from slumping
In some respects, Microsoft is about to take a mulligan with Windows 8.1. The free update will address many of the complaints users have with Windows 8, including the lack of a Start button (but not a Start menu), the inability to boot directly to the desktop, and more. It will also introduce in a much improved browsing experience (Internet Explorer 11), two new tile size options, and a bunch of other tweaks we recently outlined. Windows 8.1 will not, however, save traditional PCs from whatever fate awaits.
Serving as yet another sign that mobile platforms are here to stay, Futuremark announced that it plans to port its PCMark benchmark over to Android, iOS, and Windows RT. Like its Windows counterpart, the mobile version will feature benchmark tests based on real-world use scenarios, though they'll be geared toward activities that smartphone and tablet owners perform on a daily basis. It will also examine battery life.
Hewlett-Packard seems to have a bit of a minor crush on Google as of late. The first evidence came when HP offered up its Pavilion Chromebook to the public, a 14-inch notebook running Google's Chrome OS. For what it's worth, HP is still the only OEM outside of Acer and Samsung to offer a Chromebook model, the other two of which were on the bandwagon since day 1. Perhaps looking to further test the waters outside of Windows, HP this week announced another Google-driven product, the HP Slate 21 All-In-One (AIO).
Last week Apple announced its highly-anticipated iOS 7 update would come with a flurry of "new" features. From the look of things, however, we've seen a lot of these supposedly fresh designs in Android, WebOS, and Windows before.
Never has the future of Microsoft looked as uncertain as it does right now. Not only are PC sales down, but Windows 8 is such a drastic change over previous versions, it has OEMs and hardware makers looking at supporting alternative platforms. That includes AMD, which revealed at Computex that it's suddenly interested in developing hardware for Google's open source Android and Chrome OS platforms.
Microsoft last week formally introduced the world to Windows 8.1, an upcoming update to Windows 8 that will bring back the Start button (yay!) but not the Start menu (boo!), along with a handful of other features. Following up that announcement, corporate vice president of Windows program management Antoine Leblond joined Windows CFO and CMO Tami Reller and a few other top Microsoft executives on stage at Computex do demo the upcoming free update. Don't worry if you couldn't attend, the software giant also released a YouTube video highlight the release.