On May 14th, Microsoft confirmed that the forthcoming Windows 8 update, Windows “Blue,” will now officially be called Windows 8.1. It will be a available as a free download from the Windows Store for Windows 8 and RT users. Tami Reller, Microsoft’s Chief Marketing Officer and the Windows Division’s Chief Financial Officer, made these statements at the JP Morgan Technology, Media and Telecom Conference.
She also said that “Windows 8.1 will advance the bold vision that we set forward with Windows 8 to deliver great tablets and PCs with an experience allowing you to do a lot more.” For enterprise customers, she believes that Windows 8.1 will give them confidence to deploy Windows 8 devices, such as tablets and PCs. Microsoft is working on their current application designs.
Reller also mentioned that the update for Windows 8 is being accelerated, which she describes as a “continuous product-improvement cycle.” “To date, the Windows division has updated various versions of the Windows 8 operating system 739 times,” Reller said, not including updates to applications. There are now over 70,000 individual applications available in the Windows Store.
She said the company feels great about the direction Windows 8 has taken, as well as their ability to deliver continuous updates to their customers—whether it updates through the App Store, Windows 8.1 or Windows Updates. She also expressed confidence in how Microsoft is positioned in today’s mobile computing market.
However, she didn’t provide any details regarding the specific changes Windows 8.1 is going to bring, except that it will be more significant than what Windows Update typically delivers. Reller did say that Windows 8.1 will be more like a “packages set of updates.”
On June 26th, 2013, Microsoft is planning to launch a public preview of Windows 8.1 to correspond with its BUILD Developer Conference in San Francisco. Reller said the final version should be available by the end of the year.
“Since the launch of Windows 8, we’ve seen our partners deliver more innovation than ever before. That’s across tablets, laptops and convertibles,” says Reller. “Windows 8 was built to blend our work and personal lives, it was built for a world where people can expect touch-first experiences everywhere. A world that expects to be connected because we’re always on the go.”
Microsoft has sold over 100 million licenses to Windows 8. The latest available data from NetMarketShare reveals that Windows 8’s desktop market share was 3.8 percent in April 2013, trailing Windows XP, Windows 7 and even Windows Vista. The slow adoption rate of Windows 8 convinced Microsoft to discount the cost of licensing the operating system for its original equipment manufacturer (OEM) partners.
The sales of traditional PCs has been declining globally, which makes the problem worse for Microsoft. Industry analysts believe the drop in PC sales is due to rising demand for smaller form factors, such as smartphones or tablets. Microsoft assured investors in its Q3 earnings call, that they’re adapting to the changes of the market, and going for Windows 8 devices that are touch-enabled which can run on smaller form factors and offer a wider range of prices. The company has plans to expand the availability of its Surface tablet as well, which is now available in 29 markets.
On Tuesday, Reller reflected on those assurances, stating that the idea with Windows 8 was to travel beyond the PC and show that they can move from PCs to mobile computing extensively. She also said that Windows 8 introduces a new experience that redefines what can be possible with mobile computing.
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