Windows 8.1 hits the streets October 18th, and it’ll be available as a free update for anyone already running Windows 8. But a full license costs $120, while Windows 8.1 Pro runs $200.

If you don’t feel like waiting until mid-October to pull out your wallet, you can place a pre-order now at the Microsoft Store.

Incidentally, Newegg is offering Windows 8.1 Pro for $20 off if you use the coupon code EMCYTZT4525.

Windows 8.1

Most people will probably get the latest version of Windows 8.1 either when they buy a computer that comes with it preloaded or when they download the free update to Windows 8 on an existing machine.

But plenty of folks have made a habit of waiting for Microsoft to release “Service Pack 1” of a new operating system before making the leap. Conventional wisdom (which isn’t always correct), is that it can take the company a year or so to work out the bugs, and that adopting a new OS when it’s first released is sort of like signing up to be a bug tester.

I don’t think that’s true in this case — Windows 8 had plenty of detractors (largely folks who don’t like the new touchscreen-friendly user interface), but under the hood the operating system is sort of like a faster, more stable version of Windows 7 with a touchscreen/full-screen user interface on top (and with a Start Screen instead of a Start Menu).

But by and large, Windows 8.1 sort of feels like Windows 8 SP1. So if you’ve been holding out, this is about as close as you’re going to get to that big service pack. It looks and feels just like Windows 8, but there are improvements.

For instance, you can now run more than 2 full-screen apps side-by-side on the same display. There’s better support for multiple monitor setups. At the other end of the scale, there’s improved support for devices with small screens, such as 8 inch tablets.

There’s also a Start Button — although it takes you to the Start Screen, not a classic Start Menu. But that screen has been improved too, with support for wallpapers, the ability to reorganize the Start Screen by moving multiple apps, and additional tile sizes. You can also now view all apps by swiping up on the Start Screen.

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One reply on “Windows 8.1 is up for pre-order for $119 and up”

  1. W8 works pretty well once you install a free little program called “Classic Start Menu”.

    And you can bet your behind most computer users won’t be installing Windows 8.1 with its FAKE ‘start button’ until its verified Classic Start Menu has been adapted to work with that.

    Otherwise, the article states that people were put off by the “touch screen friendly features”, but that’s just worded so backwards and wrongheaded, I have to correct it: People were put off from being FORCED into using a touch screen interface optimized for small displays on computers that have large displays with no touch capability. Microsoft should have left it up to users which interface to use. They would have avoided all the backlash and people would have loved the new features as they explored them at their own leisure, without having their work disrupted.

    Microsoft was idiotic enough to try to force this on network administrators in IT departments by even putting it into their Server software.

    Talk about out of touch with customer needs from being overly focused on a selfish, tollbooth oriented corporate strategy. Not that they weren’t selfish before, remember the government lawsuits over unethical and monopolistic business practices?

    One would wish for a little more critical reporting, so readers don’t start thinking of Liliputing as yet another corporate press release repeater…

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