Windows 8.1 RTM heads to PC makers in late August

Above: The Start Screen in Windows 8.1

Image Credit: Sean Ludwig/VentureBeat
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The final build of Windows 8.1 will be released to PC manufacturers by the end of August, Windows exec Tami Reller announced today at Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference.

Windows 8.1 is the next major update to Windows, and a preview version of the software debuted two weeks ago at Microsoft’s Build developers conference. It will be fully available by the holiday season, but PC makers need the software early to get devices ready for sale. The version sent to PC makers is called Release to Manufacturing or RTM.

The 8.1 update includes new features that try to appease people who had issues with Windows 8 and to advance what Windows can do. These feature include a remedial Start button on the desktop, smarter search, better windowing, a redesigned Windows app store, and 3D printing support.

Reller also announced that Microsoft will launch a “User Experience Design Competency” program for its partners in January 2014. This competency supposedly will help get designers on track with the latest Windows updates and Microsoft-endorsed design strategies.