Consumers waiting for Microsoft Corp’s revamped version of its latest Windows operating system will be able to get the software beginning on Oct. 17.
The release date for Windows 8.1 is nearly a year after the debut of Windows 8, a dramatic overhaul of the operating system that has been powering most personal computers for decades.
Microsoft unveiled its plans for Windows 8.1 three months ago, but had not set a release date until Wednesday. A test version of Windows 8.1 that may still include some bugs has been available since late June.
Windows 8 represented Microsoft’s attempt to create an operating system that works well on tablet computers, as well as on laptop and desktop machines.
However, the overhaul confused and frustrated many people, resulting in disappointing sales of devices running on Windows 8. The International Data Corp has even blamed Windows 8 for deepening the slump in PC sales as more people rely on smartphones and tablets to connect to the Internet.
Microsoft also absorbed a US$900 million charge to its most recent quarterly earnings to account for its expected losses from a company-produced tablet, called Surface, which relies on a slimmed-down version of Windows 8.
Windows 8.1 is Microsoft’s attempt to make the operating system easier and more appealing to use. It will be available as a free update to owners of Windows 8 machines.
The first laptops and PCs featuring Windows 8.1 already installed are scheduled to go on sale Oct. 18.
Separately, Microsoft said it was delaying the launch of its new Xbox One console in eight countries, while moving ahead with a November release in 13 others.
In June, Microsoft said it would start selling the new video game and entertainment console in 21 countries, but on Wednesday acknowledged the plan had been too ambitious.
The delays affect Belgium, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Sweden and Switzerland. The company said it hoped to launch the device in those countries “as soon as possible in 2014.”
The 13 markets to get the Xbox One in November will be Australia, Austria, Brazil, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Spain, the US and New Zealand, according to a statement from the Xbox team.
Microsoft’s new console will compete against Sony’s new PlayStation 4, which also promises to combine its film, music, television and games in a home entertainment box. It is also due for release later this year.