After the “Epic” 2013 with the Xbox One launch and Windows Phone 8 Update 3, the team led by Terry Myerson have been busy in the development of Windows 8.1 Update 1, the OS update that should be released in late March and early April, probably during the Build 2014 developer conference. According to the latest rumors, Microsoft could bring the Start menu back with this release.
According to a Russian site, a pre-release version of Windows 8.1 Update 1 will be delivered to OEM partners in late January, followed by the RTM (Released To Manufacturing) version in the end of March. That means that OEM partners can start testing their product lines for the updated version soon.
Although, the RTM version will be available in early April via Windows Update as a free upgrade, just as the Windows 8.1 upgrade.
After observing the screenshots, we didn’t find any apparent change to the user interface or the presence of new features, but only partially obscured build numbers are shown. The build string reads that it was compiled on December 22, 2013.
In addition, the Chinese site, Win8China has touted that Microsoft won’t bump the current NT Kernel version i.e. 6.3 for Windows 8.1. It adds Windows 8.1 Update 1 is more like an update rather than an upgrade.
Internally, Microsoft is reportedly using the term “GDR” (General Distribution Release) to indicate the update, the same nomenclature choice for Windows Phone 8. Hence, the Update 1 for Windows 8.1 should be a combination of feature packs and service packs, comprising new features and all previously released patches.
According to sources of Mary Jo Foley, the update may incorporate changes that effectively simplify to the user interface and interaction with mouse and keyboard, including the return of Start menu. Although, previous reports suggest that these changes are expected with the next version of Windows codenamed “Threshold”, the major release scheduled for the spring of 2015.