Unlike previous Windows versions, updates are rolled out as “Service Packs”. It seems like there are just too many changes that are made to the current Windows 8 that Microsoft has to give it a new subversion. For those who are trying the preview version of Windows 8.1, you’ll understand the benefits of the updated OS and would definitely want to take note of the date to update your current Windows 8 / 8.1 Preview devices.
Windows 8.1 will be available as a free update to all existing Windows 8 users, downloaded and installed through the Windows Store. In spite of this electronic, online delivery—which could, in principle, be enabled as soon as the software is finished—current users will have to wait until the clock strikes midnight in New Zealand (GMT+13). At that point, the download floodgates will be opened globally, even though most of the rest of the world will still be on October 17th.
There’s still no word on when the software will become available to MSDN and volume license customers. These two user groups have gotten access to Windows 8 many weeks before its retail availability (enabling, among other things, developers to create Windows 8 apps and have them ready for launch day), but there are continuing reports that they’ll have to wait until October 18th this time around.
Why anyone downloading the software should have to wait for the retail availability isn’t clear. A delay between the software being finished and becoming available preinstalled on new systems or on store shelves is understandable enough—OEMs need time to update their system images, boxed copies need to ship to retailers, and so on. One would think that one of the advantages of downloaded updates is that there would be no need to wait for such things.
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