Microsoft has announced that Windows 8.1 is now globally available, and is downloadable as a free update from the Windows Store.
Microsoft cites a number of "key attributes" in the release, including "an improved and hughly customised Start screen", a return of the popular Start button "as a familiar point of navigation", Bing "smart search", "more extensive apps and services" and a redesigned Windows Store.
As well as its availability today, Microsoft has also said that new devices and boxed builds at retail will contain Windows 8.1 as of tomorrow - 18 October 2003.
Computing has been using the Windows 8.1 preview build for some months now and, while features such as the drag down full apps menu, which mirrors those found in Android and iOS, and the return of the Start button are useful additions, we have found there are still issues with the various gestures required to organise content in a session.
Having to remember how, and where, to recover applications that are stored off-screen has never felt intuitive, and other odd factors such as the desktop and Modern shells running two different sessions of Internet Explorer concurrently have proved confusing in the field.
Still, Windows 8.1 is an able update that will help Microsoft to continue its attempts to reconcile desktop and mobile working environments.
With 3D printing, complete content synchronisation across devices and even an aesthetically pleasing line of animated wallpapers, Windows 8.1 also feels sufficiently future-proofed. Until Windows 8.2, anyway.