Windows 8.1 preview launch set for June 26

For Windows 8.1, will Microsoft revive the Start button? 

Just don't call it Windows Blue: Microsoft said today that Windows 8.1 would launch in preview mode in June.

Rumors about an upgrade to the Windows 8 operating system have been bandied about for a while now. 

But today, Microsoft finally offered some concrete details on the next iteration of its flagship OS. For one, CFO Tami Reller said at a tech conference in Boston today, the upgrade will launch as a public preview on June 26, and it will be available as a download from the Windows Store. For another, it won't be called Windows Blue. Instead, it'll be called Windows 8.1 (although truth be told, we sort of prefer the "Blue" appellation). 

Windows 8.1, Microsoft's Brandon LeBlanc wrote on the company blog, "continues the journey we first began with Windows 8 last fall. Windows 8.1 will help us to deliver the next generation of PCs and tablets with our OEM partners and to deliver the experiences customers – both consumers and businesses alike –need and will just expect moving forward." 

Plenty of questions remain about 8.1. Microsoft hasn't gotten into detail, for instance, about what the upgrade will actually include, nor has it set a hard date for the full version of the software (although CNET notes that could come at some point this winter). 

Some speculation has trickled out nonetheless. Last month, for instance, The Verge's Tom Warren reported that Microsoft was planning on bringing back the Start button, which was not included in the Windows 8 interface. 

"Microsoft's change of heart follows another recent planned change for Windows 8.1: a boot to desktop option," Warren wrote. "We understand Microsoft will add an option to allow users to boot directly to the traditional desktop environment in future builds of the upcoming Windows 8 upgrade." 

Warren attributed his report to "sources familiar with Microsoft's plans." Reps for Microsoft, for their part, have remained mum. 

For more tech news, follow us on Twitter @venturenaut.

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