Microsoft has revealed that Windows 8.1 will be coming to consumers as a free download later this year.
The announcement, by Tami Reller, Microsoft's Chief Marketing Officer, was first made at the JP Morgan Technology, Media & Telecom Conference in Boston on Tuesday before being confirmed by Microsoft in an official blog posting later that day.
The update, formerly dubbed 'Windows Blue,' will get its first public airing at the BUILD developers conference on June 26 before being made available in the Windows Store.
Though Microsoft claims to have sold 100 million Windows 8 licenses since the operating system was launched in October 2012, it has been the subject of criticism from both consumers and the press who have been less than happy with the fact that it has done away with the start button and that it uses two competing interfaces. Some data mining by the Guardian shows that while 100 million licenses may be in circulation, only 58 million computers are actually running Window 8, the others choosing to boot their computers in Windows.
On Friday, Frank X Shaw, the company's corporate vice president of corporate communications took to Microsoft's official blog to defend it. Placing much of the blame for the bad press it has been receiving on overzealous journalists looking for publicity and click-throughs rather than focusing on the facts; he wrote: "In this world where everyone is a publisher, there is a trend to the extreme -- where those who want to stand out opt for sensationalism and hyperbole over nuanced analysis. In this world where page views are currency, heat is often more valued than light. Stark black-and-white caricatures are sometimes more valued than shades-of-gray reality."