The upcoming Windows 8 update, known up to now by the codename “Windows Blue,” will officially be called “Windows 8.1,” Windows marketing and financial chief Tami Reller said today.
She also said Windows 8.1 will be delivered as a free update to Windows 8 and Windows RT, adding that update will be easy to get directly from the Start screen and from the Windows app store.
A preview version of Windows 8.1 will debut June 26 at the company’s annual Build conference for developers, and will be available for download.
Reller did not give a specific date for when the final version of 8.1 will be generally available but said it would be later this year and that the company is sensitive to the timing of getting hardware preloaded with Windows 8.1 out in time for the holidays.
“We understand when the holidays are,” she said.
The Windows 8.1 update is, in part, a response to customer feedback. It’s been rumored — though Microsoft has not confirmed — that the update will bring back the Start button and that it will allow users to boot directly to desktop, bypassing the tile screen that serves as the Start screen for Windows 8.
Reller made her remarks this morning at JP Morgan’s Technology, Media and Telecome Conference in Boston.
She also said the Windows Store now has 70,000 apps.
The Windows Store is geared especially for users of Windows RT — the version of Windows 8 running on ARM-based processors geared toward tablets and that can only run apps available through the Windows Store. The number of Windows Store apps has lagged behind the number available for iOS and Android tablets. Reller said Microsoft has “done so much to improve Windows RT since the Surface introduction in the fall,” and said the company is committed to having devices running on ARM architecture as well as Intel processors.
Reller said there will be more form factors for Windows 8 coming later this year, and that surveys have shown that people have “a lot of interest” in convertible and detachable devices that can function as both laptops and tablets.