updated 09:40 pm EDT, Mon August 12, 2013
New revision of maligned OS restores start menu, boots to desktop
A very near final build of Windows 8.1 is undergoing internal testing has leaked online, suggesting that Microsoft may be ready to release the new version of the operating system soon. According to sources familiar with the matter, Microsoft will "Release to Manufacturing" either this update or the next, with the release in October. The intervening time will be used to complete testing, make a launch day patch, and refine device drivers.
According to ZDNet, the Windows 8.1 update will be a kind of second launch for the OS, and will come alongside new hardware using the OS, including smaller tablets than Windows 8 has been seen on so far.
The update to Windows 8.1 includes some improvements to the operating system, including a Bing-driven search engine and smaller Live Tiles. Microsoft claims to have re-implemented a Start menu that was excised in Windows 8, but the actual functionality has been somewhat lacking. Usability has been addressed with additional tutorials, as well as the ability to bypass the Live Tiles interface and boot straight to the desktop.