Microsoft’s big Windows 8.1 update launches on Oct. 18

The Start Screen in Windows 8.1

Above: The Start Screen in Windows 8.1

Image Credit: Sean Ludwig/VentureBeat
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Microsoft will launch its next major update to Windows — Windows 8.1 — on Oct. 18 to anyone who wants it, the company announced today. The release will be available one day early inside the Windows Store, so all Windows 8 users can get it Oct. 17.

Windows 8.1 is a big update to Windows 8, which has sold more than 100 million licenses to date and generated copious amounts of feedback from regular users and the vocal tech press. Microsoft previewed 8.1 back in late June at its Build conference. The 8.1 update includes a remedial Start button on the desktop, Internet Explorer 11, smarter search that looks across your computer and the web, more windowing options, a redesigned Windows app store, and 3D printing support.

The 8.1 update will be free to all Windows 8 owners, which makes this feel much more like a “service pack” for Windows rather than a flashy OS update like Apple charges for once a year. If you’re not already on Windows 8, 8.1 will start shipping on new PCs in October, or you can upgrade your PC to 8.1 on Oct. 18.

Check out the photos below to see a few more views of Windows 8.1.