By Alexandra Burlacu | Jul 10, 2013 04:51 AM EDT
Windows chief Tami Reller has announced that Microsoft's PC and tablet partners will receive a "near final" Windows 8.1 release in late August.
An August release would give PC makers and system builders enough time with the software to prepare Windows 8.1 devices for the 2013 holiday season.
Speaking on Tuesday, July 9, at the company's annual Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) in Houston, Texas, Reller said that Microsoft is getting ready to ship the release to manufacturing (RTM) version of Windows 8.1 to OEMs by the end of next month.
While Reller said that Microsoft would ship the release to manufacturing (RTM) version of Windows 8.1 to OEMs by late August, she did not mention of when the software will reach consumers in its final form. Considering previous timelines, however, Microsoft should be ready to ship Windows 8.1 to consumers by October. Reller further added that many Windows devices shipping this holiday season will come with the updated software on board.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, meanwhile, highlighted the company's evolution from a software firm to a real devices and services company.
"Windows has always been more a device than a piece of software; it defined a class of device called the PC," boasted Ballmer at WPC, referring to tablets, all-in-ones, convertibles and other devices. "We need our partners to come with us in this journey."
Microsoft released a public preview of Windows 8.1 back on June 26, allowing users to try out the new software before it officially rolls out in its final form. At this point, however, the next stop is RTM, with no other previews or test builds along the way. The company will make Windows 8.1 available as a free upgrade to all Windows 8 and Windows RT users through Windows Store.
Microsoft execs at the WPC did not offer an updated figure for Windows 8 licenses sold so far. Back in early May, the company announced more than 100 million Windows 8 licenses sold in the software's first six months on the market.
Windows 8 generated a firestorm of criticism over its radical overhaul of the Windows interface and the lack of a Start button, but Ballmer was quick to defend the platform.
"Windows 8 was nothing short of the most remarkable replatforming from Windows," Ballmer told partners at the conference, noting that Microsoft did "a heck of a good job on Windows 8."
He did reckon, however, that feedback and complaints regarding Windows 8 did not go unnoticed and the company aims to address those issues in Windows 8.1.
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