Windows 8.1 release date: Will it come with start button?

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    Windows 8.1 release date is still not clear, but preview can be expected next month. Many people wonder if it will come with start button

    By Parwinder Sandhu

    “Offer freebies to cover up the follies”. This seems to be the motive adopted by Microsoft for offering Windows 8.1, the updated version of its highly criticized Windows 8, launched a year ago, for free to the current users of the operating system.

    The announcement came from the CFO of the Windows division, Tami Reller, during the JP Morgan Technology, Media & Telecomm Conference. Reller said: “Windows 8.1 will be delivered as a free update to Windows 8 and Windows RT. It will be easy to get right from the Windows Start Screen from the Windows app store.”

    Though, at present it is not known for sure whether Microsoft will use the “Windows 8.1” name for the simultaneous update to Windows RT, the tablet-centric offshoot designed for devices running ARM processors, as it declined to reveal the name of the Windows RT update. The CFO also refused to divulge the additional details pertaining to the update, such as the timing of the final release or specifics on Windows 8.1’s contents. Meanwhile, what is confirmed is that a public preview will ship during BUILD, Microsoft’s developer’s conference, being organised in San Francisco from June 26-28. That preview will also be distributed through the Windows Store.

    Though the tech experts have lauded the decision of the Microsoft of offering the updated version for free to the current users, there are still a lot of criticisms coming its way following the launch of much hyped Windows 8 and according to some of the experts Microsoft had little choice but to offer the update free of charge.

    Patrick Moorhead, Principal Analyst with Moor Insights & Strategy Analysts said: “Making the upgrade free will make the ecosystem and installed base very happy.”

    Michael Silver of Gartner said:  “Microsoft should quickly answer several up-in-the-air questions that enterprises have about Windows 8.1. We don’t yet know what they’re going to do to the desktop. How long Microsoft will support each of the expected annual updates. Will Windows 8.1 share the support lifecycle of its parent, Windows 8 — which won’t retire until January 2023 — or have its own schedule? Will they support 10 different updates?”

    It may be recalled that Microsoft’s Windows 8 was criticized for confusing customers. It was put down by several tech experts and computer geeks for the radical change to the graphical user interface that it introduced. The software, introduced last year replaced the traditional start button with a mosaic of tiles that work well on touch screens but feel confusing to many users of laptops and desktops.

    In the updates version even though Microsoft has not committed to a return of the start button, but the move is widely expected. Further the company would be adding some improvements to its Metro interface, including better multitasking. Internet Explorer 11 is apparently going to debut on Windows 8.1 as well.

    Windows 8 was also criticized for showing the Start screen rather than the more familiar desktop after login may incorporate a new “boot to desktop” option in its updated version.