This development means that Microsoft’s many hardware partners like Samsung, Lenovo, and Dell can get their PCs, tablets, and hybrid devices running Windows 8.1 and Windows RT 8.1 before the official release of Windows 8.1 on Oct. 18. Microsoft will almost certainly continue to work out more bugs until the official release, but the majority of the work on the OS is now done.
Windows 8.1 is a big, free update to Windows 8 that addresses a lot of the feedback it got for Windows 8. The 8.1 update adds a remedial Start button on the desktop, Internet Explorer 11, smarter search that looks across your computer and the web, more windowing options including a 50/50 split on modern apps, a redesigned Windows app store, 3D printing support, and more.
Microsoft announced two weeks ago that Windows 8 would launch on Oct. 18 to most people. However, if you’re already running Windows 8 and have access to the Windows Store, you can download it on Oct. 17.