Windows 8.1 & Windows RT 8.1 Released

Microsoft released Windows 8.1 and Windows RT 8.1 today. This update, which applies to Windows 8 and Windows RT 8, is the first “major” release since the initial release about a year ago.

What’s New?

This update contains many enhancement and fixes. Some of the updates include:

  • Start button. Although the Start button does exist in Windows 8, it is hidden by default until you move your mouse into the lower left corner, or swipe up from the bottom. In Windows 8.1, the Start button is shown by default.
  • SkyDrive integration. With Windows 8.1, SkyDrive is deeply integrated into the operating system making it simple to view and save files to/from SkyDrive. In fact, making use of a new feature called smart files, you can now see the names of all your files and folders in SkyDrive directly within Windows 8.1, even if you haven’t synced that file/folder to local storage. This allows you to easily work with your SkyDrive-based files without having to sync everything locally, which can be prohibitive with many tablets due to smaller storage capacity.
  • Boot to Desktop. Another much-requested feature is the ability to boot directly to the desktop in Windows 8.1. Though this is turned off by default, I covered how to turn this on in a blog post a while back.
  • And much, much more!

You can view more details about what’s new in Windows 8.1 here.

How Do I Get It?

If you are currently running Windows 8.1 Preview then check out Microsoft’s Update from Windows 8.1 Preview to Windows 8.1 page. For a more thorough set of instructions, check out Paul Thurrott’s Windows 8.1 Upgrade: Step-By-Step guide.

MSDN subscribers can also download Windows 8.1 (but not Windows RT 8.1) directly from the MSDN subscribers site.