Windows 8.1 update reportedly hits final stage

The "spring" update to Windows 8.1 is purportedly now in the hands of PC and tablet makers.

Microsoft has signed off on the update and moved it into the RTM (release-to-manufacturing) stage, The Verge said on Tuesday, citing "sources familiar with Microsoft's plans." A similar tidbit was served by Russian leaker Wzor, who tweeted that the Windows 8.1 spring update was signed off by Microsoft on February 26 and is now final.

The update has begun to reach device makers to test and install on their products, The Verge added. Windows 8.1 … Read more

Microsoft gets Windows 8.1 out early to developers after all

The Microsoft course reversals -- such as the reintroduction of a Windows Start Button and the cancellation of the "Always On" requirement for Xbox One -- are continuing.

The latest 180, announced by the company on September 9, is that MSDN/TechNet subscribers and volume licensees are going to be able to get their hands on the Windows 8.1 release to manufacturing (RTM) bits early, after all. In fact, Microsoft is making the RTM versions of Windows 8.1 and Windows 8.1 Pro available to those groups Monday, September 9. Microsoft also will be releasing the … Read more

Microsoft: Windows 8.1 is now in PC makers' hands

Microsoft announced Tuesday that Windows 8.1 and Windows RT 8.1 have been released to manufacturing and are now being delivered to its OEM partners.

Company officials also confirmed, as I blogged earlier this month, that there will be no early access to the Windows 8.1 release-to-manufacturing bits by subscribers to MSDN/TechNet and volume-license customers. They will have to wait for Windows 8.1's launch, October 18, to get the gold code.

Put down the pitchforks -- at least for a minute -- and consider this:

Point 1: Yes, it's true: This is not how … Read more

Windows 8.1 reflects new reality for Microsoft releases

So now that we have Microsoft's official announcement that Windows 8.1 will launch August 14, there are still more details to uncover.

Note that today's announcement didn't mention RTM (release to manufacturing) or MSDN/TechNet availability. I'm still hearing RTM is still a week-plus away (possibly on or around August 26) and that MSDN/TechNet and volume licensees won't get the RTM bits until October 18.

Why not earlier? In large part it's because Microsoft is making the Windows sausage differently these days.

We are no longer in the world where the Windows … Read more

How to get the Start menu back in Windows 8

Editors' note: This story was originally published on August 20, 2012. It has been updated several times since then to include additional programs and other details, most recently with Start Menu Reviver on May 15, 2013.

Still miss the classic Start menu in Windows 8? Never fear, alternatives are here.

Microsoft lopped off the Start menu in Windows 8 to force people to use the Start screen. And I'll admit it, the Start screen does offers several benefits.

Live Tiles can clue you in to the latest e-mails, appointments, news, and other information. You can easily search for any … Read more

How to enable touch-pad gestures on Windows 8 laptops

Installing the Windows 8 RTM (release-to-manufacturing) on my two laptops went smoothly yesterday except for one problem -- no gesture support.

Trying to navigate the Start screen and other areas of the new OS, I found that left and right clicking on the touch pad worked fine. But using two fingers or other gestures to scroll or move around had no effect.

A Web search discovered other testers and users bumping into the same obstacle. This is odd, because I ran into no such problems with the Windows 8 Release Preview. So why doesn't Windows 8 RTM handle touch-pad … Read more

Windows 8 sticks with IE10 Do Not Track by default

Microsoft is not likely to win over advertisers with its decision to turn on Internet Explorer 10's Do Not Track feature in the RTM version of Windows 8.

The Do Not Track, or DNT, feature is designed to stop third-party Web sites from tracking your online activity. Web sites that find Do Not Track turned on in your browser are supposed to back off. Most browsers leave the setting turned off, leaving it up to the user to decide whether to enable it.

But a blog post from Microsoft Chief Privacy Officer Brendon Lynch confirmed that the company is … Read more

Windows 8 to arrive by late October, Microsoft says

Finally: Microsoft has pinned some real availability dates on Windows 8.

Tami Reller, corporate vice president of Windows, told partners attending Microsoft's worldwide partner conference in Toronto this morning that Windows 8 is on track to be released to manufacturing the first week of August, and to be generally available by late October 2012.

This also means that Windows Server 2012 will be released to manufacturing by the first week of August. But the server bits won't be available to customers until September, a July 9 post on the Windows Server blog confirms the RTM date.

Reller also … Read more

Windows 8 due 'for the holidays,' but will biz bite?

Microsoft dropped some hints today that the commercial release of Windows 8 could come sooner rather than later, but critics are worried that it's not very business friendly.

Announcing the Windows 8 Release Preview, Microsoft's Steven Sinofsky wrote today in the Building Windows 8 blog that the final version is, at the very least, on track.

"If the feedback and telemetry on Windows 8 and Windows RT match our expectations, then we will enter the final phases of the RTM (release to manufacturing) process in about 2 months," Sinofsky wrote. (Windows RT refers to the version … Read more

Windows 8 beta could debut as early as February

A public beta of Windows 8 will launch in late February of next year, says tech news site The Next Web.

Citing "sources close to Microsoft," TNW pointed to February for the beta's debut but said the release date for the final version of Windows 8 remains a mystery, though it's expected to ship next year.

Mary Jo Foley of CNET sister site ZDNet said she's heard that the beta would appear after next month's Consumer Electronics Show, which runs from January 10 to 13, but Foley said she isn't aware of any … Read more