Microsoft is releasing Windows 8.1 today, about a year after bringing Windows 8 to market with mixed reviews. The new release promises improved flexibility, mobility, security and networking solutions across multiple devices.
" We listened to customer feedback and are delivering many of the improvements we've been asked for," the company said in a blog post announcing the release.
Windows 8 users can update to Windows 8.1 with a free download from the Windows Store. Users running other operating Systems, like Windows 7, Vista, XP or Windows 8.1 Preview should visit Windows.com which will provide user specific information.
Users can expect the same feel as Windows 8 with the Live Tiles interface, but with subtle improvements like easy gestural access to view All Apps. Windows 8.1 also allows users to set the All Apps view as their start screen.
Many users will also rejoice when they see the familiar Start Button. It doesn't bring up the start menu, the loss of which many lament, but instead acts as a switch between the desktop and Start Screen.
Other changes and improvements include better cloud integration, more customizability, a native Bing search bar and a reemergence of the Start Button -- or at least something that looks like it.
Microsoft is also rolling out Windows 8.1 to its commercial customers and partners. The update includes more power for companies with specialized industry devices such as point-of-sale terminals, kiosks and displays with Embedded 8.1 Industry.
Many businesses have already begun planning and testing the new operating system ahead of today's final release but Windows also offers deployment tools for companies who wish to test Windows 8.1 Enterprise for IT infrastructure and software compatibility.