Less than a year ago we were preparing to launch Windows 8, which introduced our vision of highly personalized mobile computing. And here we are today announcing the global availability of Windows 8.1. Windows 8.1 demonstrates our commitment to continuously improving the product to create a richer customer experience. We are excited to have customers start updating their devices today and getting to experience new Windows devices this holiday season.
Windows 8.1 brings a variety of new features and improvements to Windows 8 that we think people will really enjoy. We listened to your feedback and are delivering many of the improvements you asked for.
If you are a consumer with a Windows 8 device, you can now download the free update to Windows 8.1 online through the Windows Store*. Please visit Windows.com for everything you need to know including how to get the update for your Windows 8 device. If you are a consumer on a device running Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, or the Windows 8.1 Preview - this page on Windows.com will detect your OS and provide you with all the information you need in order to get Windows 8.1 on your device. I also highly recommend reading our FAQ which answers many of the most common questions about getting Windows 8.1.
Starting tomorrow October 18th, Windows 8.1 will also be available on new devices and as packaged DVD product at retail locations around the world. You can also click here to learn about the wide variety of new Windows devices available now and coming throughout the holiday season to find the one that best fits their needs, and their budget.
To celebrate the new Windows, starting today for the next 8 days - we will pick 810 (see what we did there?) random winners per day who tweet and share their new Start screen after updating their Windows 8 device to Windows 8.1 with the #MyStart hashtag.
To take a screenshot of your Start screen in Windows 8.1, open up the Share charm from your Start screen and tap or click the down arrow next to "Start" and choose "Screenshot" (shown above). Alternatively, you can press the Windows logo key + PrtScn on your keyboard or if you're using a tablet, press the Windows logo button + the volume down button.
Winners will receive a $10 promotional Windows Store gift card to get started with great Windows apps and games. Click here for the full terms and conditions for the sweepstakes including how to redeem your gift card if you are a winner. Winners will be informed via Direct Message on Twitter. This sweepstakes is for participants in the U.S. only. However, we would still love to see Start screens from people around the world and in different languages!
We will also be hosting an IAmA chat on reddit today with several of our engineers to answer your questions about Windows 8.1 from 10:30am to 12:00pm (PST). Our engineers are excited to answer your questions about many of the new features and improvements in Windows 8.1 (see more below on these features and improvements). Please note this will not be the appropriate place to seek help with any issues you may have had with getting Windows 8.1 on your device – the best place for assistance with your issues will be the Microsoft Community forums.
After our reddit chat, we will host a special Tech Thursday Live Twitter Chat to discuss Windows 8.1 from 12:00pm to 1:00pm (PST). Join @Windows, @kristinalibby, and myself (@brandonleblanc) for the chat. To participate in the chat, just use our normal #winchathashtag. We look forward to seeing some of your new Start screens from Windows 8.1! I'm planning to share my Start screen but you'll have to attend our chat to see it as I'm still finishing up making it look epic.
You've heard us (and me) talk a lot about the new features in Windows 8.1 since the Build conference last June but I think it's worth reiterating the awesomeness that Windows 8.1 brings to your device.
Start the way you want. The Start screen in Windows 8.1 is more customizable than ever with new tile sizes, new background designs and colors - allowing you to make the Start screen on your device unique and personal to you (you should see some of the color combinations I've come up with for my Start screen!). You can also choose how you start your Windows experience - at the Start screen or the desktop. The Start button is back. And there is an improved Apps view that allows you to see all your apps the way you want.
Multi-tasking is even better in Windows 8.1 – you can now have up to four apps side by side with flexible windows sizing for each app on the screen. At a minimum, I usually have 3 apps snapped side by side on my devices doing various things like email, listening to music and browsing the web. We have also improved multi-monitor support in Windows 8.1 allowing users to view their desktop or apps from the Windows Store on any or all their monitors.
Bing Smart Search is the easiest way to find what you are looking for and to get things done. Built for touch, swipe or type from the Start screen and Smart Search will find what you need – whether it's a document on your PC, a photo album in the cloud, your favorite app, or a website.
Windows 8.1 comes with new and improved Microsoft apps and services - available right out of the box and right from your Start screen. Skype is there for instant messaging and catching up with friends and family. We've updated the Mail app (well, more like over-hauled) to make email easier – for both personal and email and work email. Two new Bing apps are introduced in Windows 8.1 called Food & Drink and Health & Fitness along with updates to the News, Weather, Finance, Travel and Sports apps. Xbox Music has received a big update for Windows 8.1, and you can watch TV and movies with Xbox Video. And Windows 8.1 comes with Internet Explorer 11 which is optimized for touch and brings speed boosts and synchronized browsing history, favorites, and settings across all of your Windows 8.1 devices.
Speaking of synchronizing - Windows 8.1 also comes with deep and improved cloud integration with SkyDrive. Your files are always accessible across all your devices. With SkyDrive smart files, you can create, edit, save and share files anywhere, anytime and your files are always with you, both on and offline.
And the Windows Store has been redesigned in Windows 8.1. With the “New & Rising” section it is now easier to stay on top of the hottest and newest apps to hit the Windows Store. Plus, the Windows Store has a live tile too! The Windows Store will also now provide you with personalized recommendations - powered by Bing. And apps are now updated from the Windows Store automatically by default so you will always have the best and newest versions of your apps. Look for new and updated apps including Adobe Photoshop Express, Box, Evernote, Facebook, Hulu Plus, Netflix, and NOOK, for Windows 8.1. And more to come!
Windows 8.1 will also bring some very innovative new devices for both consumers and businesses from tablets and 2-in-1s with a perfect mix of mobility and productivity, to new laptops, All-in-Ones and specialized industry devices.Windows 8.1 brings the widest selection of designs at every price point. I'll be blogging more about many of these devices over the next few weeks as they become available, so you can find and experience a device that is truly an extension of you.
Windows 8.1 represents collaboration across the entire company. Over the last three days, we've featured guest blog posts from our friends at Skype, Xbox, Bing, SkyDrive, and Internet Explorer that discusses in the connected experience that Windows 8.1 brings together.
And now you can enjoy the results of this work today. So get your device updated! And be sure to share those Start screens.
*Internet access required; fees may apply.
See also: How to Upgrade to Windows 8.1 from Windows 8 or Windows 8.1 Preview