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Summary:

Microsoft’s CMO promised an easy upgrade route for both Win 8 and Win RT users to Windows 8.1.

Bluestacks plus Windows 8

Windows Blue, which will be officially known as Windows 8.1, will be a free upgrade to existing Windows 8 or Windows RT users, Tami Reller, CFO of the Windows business unit at Microsoft said on Tuesday. She also said attendees of the Microsoft Build Conference kicking off June 26 will get a preview version of the OS upgrade.

Tami Reller, Microsoft CMO.

Tami Reller, Microsoft CMO.

Reller did not provide much more detail around when customers can get the OS upgrade, but said Microsoft is “very aware” of the holidays and would like to have the OS preloaded on hardware for that selling season. But that desire notwithstanding, buyers can get any Windows 8 device and be assured that 8.1 will be an easy update from the start button  screen, Reller told attendees of the JP Morgan Technology, Media & Telecom Conference.

She also characterized 8.1 as an update, more than the usual product tweaks deliverable online, but less than a full new release.

Earlier remarks by Reller in the Financial Times seemed to indicate that Microsoft was rethinking Windows 8 broadly, in response to user feedback, but today 8.1 was positioned as an easy, seamless update. No new interface perks were mentioned.

Windows 8 and RT, which Microsoft launched last fall to put Windows on new form-factor and touch devices, have met mixed reviews. But Reller said it’s met its objectives — running lots of innovative devices including “detachables” where the keyboard can be snapped off to leave a touch-device; convertibles which can shape-shift from laptop to touch device; and plain old traditional laptops and PCs.

Reller also said that Microsoft’s ability to sell into enterprise accounts remains strong and is actually getting stronger. And, for all the angst around Windows 8, the company on its last earnings call said it expects to reap nearly $4 billion in Windows-related licensing revenue this fiscal year. That’s a big number even Windows bashers would have to respect.

This story was updated at 8:31 a.m. PDT with more information about Microsoft enterprise sales and again at 11:34 a.m. PDT to correct the record — Reller talked about updates being easy from the Windows start screen, not the start button.

  1. From article: ” But that desire notwithstanding, buyers can get any Windows 8 device and be assured that 8.1 will be an easy update from the start button, . . .”

    LOL. It’s free from the start button but the catch is there is no start button.

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    1. She never said “…from the start button…”.

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      1. this story was corrected within an hour and before you made your comment.

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    2. kary, are you a windows 8 user and if so, what’ s your impression of the current product?

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  2. omg that is soooo funny. She def said that but let me follow up!!!

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    1. In another article I just saw the phrase was “start screen.”

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      1. you are correct. Microsoft got back to tell me she said “Start screen.” Story is updated accordingly. thanks for your comments

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        1. It’s sad that you actually found your mistake hilarious!

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          1. what is sad about it? Would you rather mistakes not be corrected? come on.

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            1. Start screen/start button is a difference where someone could accidentally say the wrong one without realizing it, or accidentally hear the wrong one. Not a huge deal, but it was funny.

              The Seattle Times web headline is also funny. It says Win 8.1 will be free to current users. There the catch is most people are using Win 8, not 8.1.

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  3. Microsoft’s products since the summer of 2012 have been sales failures but “we’re getting stronger in the enterprise” and “Windows 8 has met its objectives – the keyboard can be snapped off.”

    Come on, Tami Reller, if you’re going to do PR for Microsoft, you could at least avoid making it sound like the whole company is in denial.

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    1. Do you care to back up your statements? At least her CFO has to answer to the SEC and shareholders and makes sure that he has his facts straight before opening his mouth.

      Who fact checks you?

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      1. I think you missed the point. You’re driving somewhere but your car runs out of gas and stops on the road. The people who are waiting for you to arrive, call and demand to know when you’re going to show up. If you’re Tami Reller or anyone at Microsoft, you say “This car has really comfortable seats.”

        The people who called you might think you’re evading their question.

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        1. I think you’re stretching.

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  4. Why is GigaOM interested in covering Microsoft or Windows? I guess it must be a period of lull over in Cupertino.

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  5. “…running lots of innovative devices including “detachables” where the keyboard can be snapped off to leave a touch-device…”
    What am I missing? We’ve had touch screen on Vista, Linix, Android, and many more for years. We’ve had wireless keyboards for decades. Magnets and bow ties are great eye candy and help the 50’s style dancers make great looking commercials. Is that the new definition of “innovative”, anything that makes last century fit in today’s landscape?

    I also never undstood why many are so upset the start menu is opened for them when they login, fills the whole screen, and looks a little different. Still, it’s hard to visualize that as so innovative I could hate it or love it. The ability to use down-sized apps “RT” style apps in Android fashion? That’s new and good, but we won’t let her include that in a press conference like this because it eludes to a boxy screen we all want to bash. I guess I’m missing the boat on both sides of this peer.

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    1. The one thing I do understand and want to see in fixed in 8.1 is that it’s wrong that you can’t finalize a CD without third party software. Turn it off by default or make it a registry key for geeks, but this is not even a feature. It’s a simple natural function of making a normal CD. It was available in the earliest versions of OS that could burn to CD. You can’t convince me people were so angry about losing a 20¢ disk in one use that they could not be taught to use multisession without being forced.
      Finalizing is required to satisfy write-once policy while using media for certain purposes in some businesses. It was an unforgivable bug to lose this capability and require third parties to clean up after a buggy OS.
      Here’s hoping Blue Windows can prove to us that M$ is listening to something out there.

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