Windows 8.1 Will Be A Free Update For Windows 8 and Windows RT Users, Public Preview To Launch June 26

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Windows Blue will be called Windows 8.1 and will launch as a public preview on June 26, Microsoft revealed today. While the company remains mum about what exactly we can expect from Windows 8.1 (boot to desktop? the return of the Start menu?), Microsoft says that Windows 8.1 “will help [it] to deliver the next generation of PCs and tablets with our OEM partners and to deliver the experiences customers— both consumers and businesses alike —need and will just expect moving forward.” The update will be available for Windows 8 and the ARM-based Windows RT.

June 26 marks the start of Microsoft’s Build developer conference in San Francisco, so the date is obviously not all that much of a surprise, given that Microsoft will want to get its developer ecosystem to start working with Windows 8.1 as soon as possible. The update, Microsoft says, will be delivered through the Windows Store.

Microsoft, the company’s CFO Tami Reller said at the JP Morgan Technology, Media & Telecom Conference in Boston today, wants to continually update Windows to create “a richer experience” for its customers.

Today’s announcement comes after a few days of build-up, including pieces by Microsoft’s corporate VP of communications Frank X. Shaw about how Windows 8 has been doing far better than the pundits make it seem. This also caps off months of speculation around when we would see the first preview of Windows, though the first day of Build always seemed like a reasonable date.