Microsoft has taken most of the wrapping off of the coming update to Windows   8. Codenamed ‘Blue,’ the formally monikered Windows 8.1 update arrived in preview form on June 26th, a date that coincided with the company’s  Build developer event in San Francisco.

The era of Windows 8 is upon us. With more than 100 million licenses for the new operating system sold thus far, and the end of Windows XP support rapidly approaching, Microsoft’s newest OS isn’t simply what’s next.

Is it ready? Windows 8 at launch was a quirky affair, with new user interface elements and features that, while occasionally individually compelling, came together disjointedly where at all. Microsoft had a bucket of parts, but not so much a finished product.

It was a shame, frankly, that Windows 8 on the day of its general availability wasn’t Windows 8.1. It would have spared it much of the public criticism that it has endured thus far in its short, seven-month life. Windows 8.1 is a material improvement on its predecessor. To call it a new operating system would be a mistake, but Windows 8.1 is certainly a reformed, better evolved creature.


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