Long-time industry insider Paul Thurrott has indicated the shipment date for Windows 8.1 (formerly Windows Blue) will be August 1 -- or more cleverly put: 8/1. Thurrots date defies previous rumors of a later launch thought to possibly be sometime in October.
At first glance, the tweet may seem a bit tongue-in-cheek. However, when a follower chose to contend the purported shipment date, Thurrott issued a reply which lent more weight to his original tweet.
Although not infallible, Thurrott has a solid track record when it comes to rumors -- particularly ones from Microsoft -- thanks to his variety of inside sources and industry connections.
Interestingly though, Microsoft recently confirmed it would be releasing its 8.1 public preview during an annual conference slated for June 26 through 28. As these types of releases are typically unfinished products, Thurrott's purported ship date would leave Microsoft with a nearly one-month lapse between preview and retail -- that's an uncharacteristically small amount of time for the company to give itself to iron out any remaining kinks.
So far, we know that Windows 8.1 is a free upgrade aimed at improving the Windows 8 user experience, particularly the Metro / Modern UI areas of the OS. The update will feature the return of the Start button (but not menu), better Start Screen searching and customization, access to most system settings without leaving to the desktop, enhanced apps and Internet Explorer 11.