Windows 8.1: the pitch to partners
Of course, Ballmer and Microsoft have faced a backlash of sorts over Windows 8, and the radical overhaul of the Windows interface that the operating system includes.
"Windows 8 was nothing short of the most remarkable replatforming from Windows," he told partners.
Microsoft did "a heck of a good job on Windows 8," Ballmer said. However, he also said that the company has "listened to the feedback" from enterprise customers on Windows 8, and hoped that those questions would be answered by Windows 8.1
Reller, who took over from Steven Sinofsky after Sinofsky unexpectedly left the company soon after the launch, had the job of convincing partners that Windows 8 was a hit. Unfortunately, she still didn't back off Microsoft's party line that the company had sold over 100 million Windows 8 licenses, and that enterprises had downloaded more than 20 million "enterprise evaluations." In total, Windows 8 had been used over 60 billion hours, she said. Over 100,000 Windows 8 apps have been released on the Windows Store.
"Now is the time for enterprise to consider Windows 8 with Windows 8.1," Reller said. "It is only 273 days away until the end of Windows XP support, she said, adding some urgency to the transition.
Reller also announced a design competency to train designers on how to design apps for the new Windows 8 interface, launching in January. Via another program, "Touch Wins," Microsoft will provide incentives to customers and partners who sell touchscreen-enabled PCs.
Finally, Reller also said that Windows 8.1 RTM would be released by late August. Last year, OEMs had access to Windows 8.0 in the first week of August, with the public launch on Oct. 25--implying that Microsoft will launch Windows 8.1 to consumers, in its release version, before then.
It's not clear how much testing Microsoft needs to do to push Windows 8.1, but the list of features that Microsoft is building in is huge. If you want Windows 8.1 now, however, follow our guides to how to download and install it.
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