May 14, 2013 -- Microsoft will give Windows 8 users who have been frustrated with the big changes in its latest operating system a free update that will bring a host of improvements.
Last week Microsoft announced that it was working on Windows Blue, an update to Windows 8 which would address the complaints users have had about the new software for tablets, laptops and desktops. Today in a talk at the JP Morgan Technology, Media and Telecom Conference, Microsoft CFO and CMO of Windows Tami Reller announced that the software would be called Windows 8.1 and that it would be a free download from the Windows store later this year.
Microsoft has said that a public preview of the new software will be available on June 26 for users. However, while it has not specifically stated what improvements will come with the refreshed software,Reller told ABC News last week that it would address the learning curve that many have felt in the switch.
Released last October, Windows 8 replaced the typical desktop with a Start Screen, which includes tiles or apps. One of the most common complaints about the software has been that the Start Button was removed. Many expect Microsoft will resurrect the Start button in Windows 8.1.
Reller wouldn't say whether the Start issue will be addressed, but added, "We have heard the feedback on that, and it's one of many pieces of feedback we have listened to with an open mind." Reller said Microsoft would detail the changes later in May.
Microsoft maintains that interest in Windows 8 has been strong. It recently announced that it had sold over 100 million licenses. However, the fact that Windows 8.1 will be coming only a year after launch is telling, says one analyst.
"By making the Windows 8.1 upgrade free, Microsoft is indicating they weren't satisfied with the experience," Patrick Moorhead, an analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, told ABC News. "This is a very good step toward improving the somewhat negative sentiment about Windows 8 as a whole. But to turn the entire Windows 8 ship around, the market will need smaller, more-cost effective touch-based tablets and more titles in the Windows store, like Facebook."