The Windows 8.1 Update 1 release date will be sometime this spring, according to Microsoft's VP and Manager for Windows Phone, Joe Belfiore.
Windows 8.1 Update 1 includes better mouse and keyboard UI features.
The update is being seen as a crucial fix for many of the complaints users have had about the usability of the OS when using a mouse and keyboard. As Belfiore admitted, while users of touch-enabled devices have found Windows 8/8.1 a big improvement over Windows 7 users of traditional PCs and laptops have been less pleased. Many have seen this as being a big reason for the relatively slow uptake of the OS.
"Some of those touch affordances weren’t really tuned as well as we could do for those mouse and keyboard users," says Belfiore. "We found people weren’t aware of where they should look in the UI. Those are the things we’ve really started to improve for this update coming this spring."
Key changes in the update include a title bar at the top of modern apps, and power / search buttons on the Windows 8.1 Start Screen. There will also be "easy" launching and switching of apps via the Windows 8.1 taskbar and a new ability to right-click on the home screen.
The update will also lower the base specification for devices, with just 1GB of RAM and 16GB of storage now required - a possible hint at a move away from continuing with Windows RT, as well as allowing for cheaper devices overall. Joining these software changes there are rumours Microsoft will be lowering the cost of Windows 8.1 licenses for PC makers, by as much as 70 percent for machines retailing for under $250. Sadly there is no hint that consumer license pricing will change.
While Windows 8.1 Update 1 is now more official, we still haven't seen every detail of the update but instead expect it to be fully revealed at the upcoming Build developer event in April.