Incoming! Windows 8.1 due to manufacturers next month

What holiday joys are in store?

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Windows 8.1 is fresh out of the gate in public preview, and soon manufacturers will be able to get their mitts on Microsoft's updated OS.

Tami Reller, Windows CMO and CFO, outed the news at the company's Worldwide Partner Conference today that a release to manufacturer (RTM) version of W8.1 will arrive in late August.

OEMs can start tinkering with the system jump's bits then, Microsoft noted, prepping PCs and other devices in time for debut during the holidays.

The Windows 8.1 Preview has been available for regular folks since June 26, and Microsoft promised more details on general availability for consumers and other customers in the coming weeks.

8.1 and then some

So what kind of Windows 8.1 devices are we in? While the usual PC suspects are pretty much a given, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer specifically shouted out smaller tablets as a direction Windows will go.

A 7- to 8-inch Windows 8.1 tablet sounds like a nice stocking stuffer, we suppose.

Though not a radical departure like Windows 8 was from Windows 7, the update codenamed "Blue" has introduced a few features sorely missed, including the return of the Start button.

We asked Microsoft for figures on downloads of the preview builds of both Windows 8.1 and Windows 8.1 RT, though were told the company couldn't accommodate our request for figures.

So far, the company has stuck to its 100 million licenses of Windows 8 line.