Windows 8.1 now available

First major update to operating system adds boot-to-desktop option.

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Microsoft today released Windows 8.1, the first major update to Microsoft's latest operating system, which was originally released in October 2012.

Windows 8.1 incorporates a "variety" of new features and "improvements" to Windows 8, including the ability to boot directly to the desktop instead of the Start screen.

"We listened to your feedback and are delivering many of the improvements you asked for," Microsoft said.

The free update is now available through the Windows Store and will be available as a packaged DVD starting tomorrow, October 18.

Microsoft advised that users who plan to download the Windows 8.1 update read the company's FAQ ahead of time.

Windows 8.1 introduces a new Start screen that is described as "more customizable than ever," featuring new tile sizes and new background designs and colors. In addition, with the update applied, users can have up to four apps side by side on the screen at once.

For more, check out Microsoft's blog post on Windows 8.1.

Windows 8 launched in October 2012 and has sold more than 100 million licenses to date. CNET found Windows 8.1 to have new features but the same problems of Windows 8.

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