Just 1 year after Windows 8 released to the public, Windows 8.1 will make its own public debut. Windows 8.1 is a set of feature and operating improvements, meant to satisfy customer complaints about the original release, bolster Enterprise features, and integrate additional services. Many believe that Windows 8.1 is truly what Microsoft should have released in the first place.

A near final version of Windows 8.1 was released recently to OEMs and rumors suggest that the final, final version will Release to Manufacturing (RTM) at the end of this month. But, while the completed bits will be available shortly, the update won't be made available to existing Windows 8 devices and computers until October 2013, when new Windows 8.1 hardware will also be available.

With the frequency of leaked updates over the course of Windows 8's life, I fully expect many to be running Windows 8.1 long before the October date. But, Microsoft is working to ensure that doesn't happen. Mary Jo Foley mentions in a recent post that Microsoft is curbing their habit of releasing the final bits to MSDN and TechNet early, as they have in the past. TechNet subscribers are already in pain over the cancellation of the TechNet subscription service, but MSDN subscribers are sure to feel like they are being punished, as well.

If you're wondering what Windows 8.1 might provide for businesses, check out The IT Guide to Windows 8.1, where we're continuing to cover the significant new Enterprise features in the upcoming release.