Today at Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference in Houston Microsoft announced that the release version of Windows 8.1 will be available in late August. The update which is currently available in preview form will available to OEMS in late August so machines on sale over the Christmas period should ship with Windows 8.1, the update is going to be free to Windows 8 users and will ship via the Windows Store. You can read my first impressions post here.

Via the Windows Blog

She announced that Windows 8.1 RTM will be available for OEM partners in late August. This means OEMs will be able to get the RTM bits and begin preparing devices with Windows 8.1 just in time for the holidays! We’ll have more details to share in the coming months for consumers and other customers on how to get Windows 8.1. As you have heard, Windows 8.1 is an update that refines the vision of Windows 8. Two weeks ago, we announced the Windows 8.1 Preview for people to try out– if you have not already, check it out and experience the new features and improvements first-hand.

Jensen Harris joined Tami on stage to show off Windows 8.1. In his demo, he showed off some pretty cool new features and functionality, including how Windows 8.1 is optimized to work great on small-form-factor devices and portrait view. He also demoed the Reading List app that lets you share articles from the web and content from other apps to read later which roams with you across your Windows devices through the cloud courtesy of SkyDrive. And with 20 billion searches on done via Windows PCs each month in the U.S. alone, Jensen highlighted the huge opportunity to build a great search experience into Windows and showed the new search experience in Windows 8.1 which is powered by Bing. He also demoed a different kind of search for music integrated with Xbox Music where you can share a webpage to the Xbox Music app where it “scrapes” the webpage for mentions of songs to create a playlist for you based on the music mentioned on a webpage. And finally, Jensen demoed for the first time new technology built into Windows 8.1 called Miracast that streams HD video and audio over Wi-Fi to another display like a TV. With Surface Pro, he essentially turned a TV into a whiteboard with the OneNote app. You can watch Jensen’s Windows 8.1 “first look” demo from a few weeks ago here.

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