Report: Second Windows 8.1 Update Coming This Fall

A second update to Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2 is reportedly in the pipeline this year.

The rumor, attributed to an online leaker who goes by "WZor," has been substantiated to a degree by veteran Microsoft reporter Mary Jo Foley. Citing unnamed sources, Foley reported on Tuesday that a second update may arrive in August. WZor suggests that the update will arrive in September.

Microsoft hasn't described a second update yet, although it did show Start Menu concept art for its next Windows client release at its Build developer event. That concept art was supposed to suggest what it planned to release in the near future, according to an explanation from Microsoft. Foley said that a new Start Menu is a possible addition to the rumored second update, but she had few details to offer about what features might arrive.

It's not clear what the rumored second update will be called. Foley speculated it could be called "Update 2" or maybe "Windows 8.2."

Wes Miller, an analyst with independent consultancy Directions on Microsoft, speculated that the new update would arrive before the fall holiday season.

"I do still believe we'll see a Windows 8.1 Update 2 (or Windows 8.2), likely with availability in the October timeframe (there's always confusion about when it will be done versus when it will be available)," Miller said via e-mail. "It'll likely be done in August or September, but not really in the wild until October, in time for the holiday."

Microsoft's accelerated software release pace hasn't been well-characterized by the company, although it has suggested that it is issuing annual releases now -- a cycle that many IT organizations may be hard-pressed to meet. Miller still hears it as annual release cycles. In the case of Windows 8, though, the update releases seem to be arriving every six months or so.

To a certain degree, Microsoft seems to be making up its software release schedule as it goes. It originally released Windows 8.1 Update with a 30-day deadline to install it. Organizations failing to do so would not get future updates, Microsoft had warned. However, a week later, Microsoft relaxed that deadline to 120 days. The reprieve came after Microsoft talked with some of its enterprise customers, Microsoft explained.

Organizations now have until Aug. 12 to install the update for Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2012 R2 or Windows Embedded 8.1 Industry or risk losing future update support for those operating systems.

Miller hasn't heard any better clarification from Microsoft about its release cycle plans, but its effects on IT organizations is apparent from customer discussions.

"There's also a fair bit of concern across customers we talk with about the level of testing that patches (not just Windows 8.1 Update, but it too) are receiving before release," he stated. "The lack of a public beta cycle may give Microsoft more flexibility internally, and allow better control over the PR and marketing message, but in a world comprised of heterogeneous software and systems, it doesn't allow for adequate time for test coverage before organizations have to start deploying (and sometimes unwinding or re-deploying) patches."

Directions on Microsoft will be hosting a public Windows roadmap update webinar on Thursday, at 10 a.m. Pacific Time. Registration is available at this page.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.


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