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There she blows! Mid-October release date for Windows 8.1 sighted

And no early tease for MSDN or TechNet loyalists, it's claimed

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Microsoft will unleash Windows 8.1 for world+dog to download in October, it's claimed, a year after it released the touchscreen-friendly, tile-tastic Windows 8.

The software giant is preparing to release version 8.1 of its operating system to computer makers later this month, but it has been reported the public will get the upgrade for their PCs in October.

On 25 October, 2012, Microsoft released Windows 8 at the same time as the failed ARM-powered Surface RT tablets – which run the RT variant of Win 8 – amid much hype from inside Redmond, Washington.

According to fresh reports, Microsoft won't do much over the next two months to warm developers to Windows 8.1 before its unwrapping. It has been reported that Microsoft won't post the release-to-manufacturers (RTM) build on either MSDN or TechNet between now and October.

Typically, once a new version of Windows is given to manufacturers to put on their hardware, the built code is also distributed to paying subscribers on Microsoft's MSDN and TechNet services.

Subscribers on these networks are mostly third-party partners who can test and prepare their applications for the new operating system version.

This time, however, it has been reported that the first time anybody will be able to get their hands on Windows 8.1 will be as it is released in October.

The Register contacted Microsoft to confirm the dates, but there was no comment at time of writing.

October has become Microsoft’s preferred launch date for new versions of its Windows client operating system.

The idea is to get copies onto PCs, shipped out into the technology distribution channel and out to retailers in time for the traditional Christmas and holiday buying splurge.

Unfortunately for Microsoft’s product planners, consumers stayed away in droves last year. In fact, the 2012-2013 shopping season was one of the worst on record for all PCs – at least since analysts began tracking PC shipments during the 1990s.

Tablet mountain... again?

Microsoft was also left with a ton of unsold inventory on its own-brand ARM-based Surface RT tablets. Microsoft wrote off $900m due to price cuts it initiated in the hope that they would boost sales of the floundering tablet.

Sales of the Surface RT and the Intel-powered Surface Pro together accounted for a mere $853m revenue during fiscal 2013.

Meanwhile, OEMs' Windows 8 tablets weren't exactly selling like hotcakes, either.

In an exclusive here, The Reg revealed how Microsoft had turned on PC makers, blaming them for the Win 8 slab sales disaster, saying that OEMs had not made enough of the “right kind” of touch PCs.

With Windows 8.1, Microsoft will be looking to recover from the touchy Win disaster.

Microsoft’s new software release will offer users a Start Button and the option to boot to the traditional Start Screen – Windows 8 had pushed you straight into the Metro interface.

Windows 8 apps, meanwhile, can be displayed at full size.

But Windows 8.1 is no retreat from Metro – it’s a consolidation, with some concessions that Microsoft hopes will be sufficient to at least silence doubters.

Meanwhile, things aren't looking good for the success of the Windows RT variant. Lenovo has stopped selling its RT-based Yoga device, while Asus and HTC have killed plans for more RT devices. Meanwhile, chip-maker Nvidia has said it is working alongside Microsoft to develop an new, improved version 2 of Redmond's ARM slab. ®

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