SOFTWARE REDEVELOPER Microsoft's remedial Windows 8.1 service pack will go live at 12pm UK time today, available to existing Windows 8 users as a free download, and on new devices starting Friday 18 October.
Windows 8.1 is the first update to Microsoft's Windows 8 PC operating system and is being delivered less than a year after the company launched the original version, a launch that failed to set the PC market alight despite the expectations of hardware vendors.
The update, which brings back the much-missed Start button (though not the menu as we once knew it) to the Windows 8 PC desktop, will begin rolling out to existing users today through the Windows Store.
Other improvements Windows 8.1 promises to deliver are in areas including personalisation, Internet Explorer 11 (IE11), desktop and internet search that are powered by Bing, built-in applications including a few new ones, an improved Windows Store experience and cloud connectivity with whatever Microsoft will be calling Skydrive by then.
However, the improvements and updated features might not spark much excitement for OEMs if the recent Gartner report is anything to go by.
Released last week, the report said that worldwide PC shipments declined 80.3 million in the third quarter, a drop of 8.6 percent from the same quarter last year and marking the seventh consecutive quarter of declining worldwide PC shipments.
Gartner said that tablets were to blame for the weakening PC market due to greater availability of inexpensive Android tablets that attract first-time buyers in emerging markets.
Microsoft is targeting that market too, and is looking to gain a foothold with the launch of its Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 tablet devices next week, which will run Windows 8.1. µ