Microsoft has finally seen fit to answer two of the biggest questions users have had about it’s upcoming Windows Blue update for Windows 8: what’s the official name of the product and how much will it cost?

According to a post at the Blogging Windows, Windows Blue will be officially known as Windows 8.1 to consumers, and be available for free to all users to download from the Windows Store. While we suspect only tech enthusiasts were really hung up on the marketing name for the update at this point in the software’s life cycle, it’s still great to finally be able to put a name to the software, sort of.

That the update is free will also please many of the Windows 8 users who’d already either paid out of their pocket to update to Microsoft’s latest operating system last fall or who recently purchased a new PC with Windows 8, and thus might be a little upset if they were asked to shell out even more money.

Leaks of the update’s code to torrent sites point to an update that seems to build on the momentum started by it’s predecessor. New features include more customizations for Live Tiles and the Start Screen, built in support for cloud syncing using Microsoft’s SkyDrive service, support for smaller screen sizes and the moving of more settings from the control panel to Windows 8’s Settings area.

Microsoft will make a preview version of Windows 8.1 available to users on June 26th. It will ship in final form to Windows 8 users this fall.

6 Comments on “Windows 8.1 Update to be Free to All Windows 8 Users, Preview to Ship at BUILD”

  1. I tweeted a lot about this yesterday, but the verbage of “this update is free to all Windows 8 users” leads me to believe that they are planning to charge for updates (Feature updates, if you will) in the future. Maybe Windows 9 will see MS adopt a “OS as a service” model. I hope not.

    • That would be a strange future. I’m not sure how I feel about being charged for feature updates.

  2. MS is in a very different position now than previously. Before, it was simply an update/upgrade of software. However, with the Surface now out there, this is a little more critical as it is not just charging to replace software, but also tied to firmware for the RT and Pro versions of Surface. These are core apps (Music, Video, Email, Messaging/Skype, etc. That are completely interwoven, and while I have, unlike the olden days, the absolute right to use or not use and in fact uninstall these core apps, updating and integration are key now.

    All I hope is the days of Home, Premium, Enterprise, Ultimate are long gone. It always PO’d me to no end to purchase a brand new Windows Vista or 7 PC here in Japan, and then fork over another $200 bucks to upgrade from Home Premium to Ultimate to get an English OS when every Mac, iPod, iPad came out of the box with languages pre-installed. Windows 8 is a breath of fresh air in that regard.

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