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It’s official: Windows 8.1 gets October 17 digital release date, hits shelves October 18

Yesterday, we reported that Windows 8 will be released to the public “some time” in October. Well, Redmond must’ve been paying attention to all the hubbub about the release date, because Microsoft’s Brandon LeBlanc announced the official date today on the Windows Blog. Mark your calendars; according to LeBlanc, starting at 4 a.m. PST on October 17, Windows 8.1 will start rolling out worldwide as a free update for Windows 8 users via the Windows Store.

Don’t have Windows 8 yet? The update will also be available to buy online and in stores on October 18. You’ll also be able to buy a brand new Windows 8.1 device that day as well. We’re expecting to see a number of 7-and 8-inch tablets running Windows 8.1 at launch, and perhaps even a new Surface tablet. As we mentioned yesterday, Microsoft is releasing Windows 8.1 to manufacturers this month, but it’s taking the time between August and the October general-public release to update and patch the OS. 

We’ve already had some hands-on time with Windows 8.1 thanks to the Preview version, and we can safely say it’s an improvement over Windows 8. Windows 8.1 will bring many fixes to the Windows 8 features we’ve griped about for the last year, including bringing back the Start button (not Start menu), an easier way to view your apps, a more personalized home screen, a better search experience, improved “split view” to make multitasking simpler, a revamped app store, Internet Explorer 11, and more. We definitely prefer Windows 8.1 over 8, but you’ll have to form your own opinion after Windows 8.1′s mid-October release.  

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