Windows 8.1 release date

Microsoft has confirmed the release date for Windows 8.1 as 17 October.

The firm said on the Windows blog that it the Windows 8.1 update will be live at 12am on 18 October in New Zealand, so that's midday on 17 October here in the UK. It will be downloadable for free from the Windows Store.

The news comes only a day after it was strongly rumoured that Windows 8.1 would arrive in October. See also: Windows 8.1 release date pegged for October.

Microsoft said: "It’s very exciting to be delivering Windows 8.1 to consumers just before Windows 8 celebrates its 1-year anniversary."

"Windows 8.1 continues the vision we began with Windows 8 and is an example of our commitment to continuous innovation and improvement for our customers."

The software giant and Surface tablet maker said Windows 8.1 will be available at retail and on new device starting from 18 October.

Windows 8.1 brings a number of welcome changes to the desktop and tablet operating system including improved customisation, more Live Tile sizes, better multi-tasking and, in a small way, the return of the Start Button (another way of getting to the Start Screen).

Microsoft has also said Windows 8.1 will include Internet Explorer 11, Bing powered search, a better Windows Store and extra SkyDrive functionality.

If you can't wait until October then you can try the Windows 8.1 Preview version for free. Check out our Windows 8.1 review for more details.

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