Can all the pundit posts about whether or not Microsoft will charge for Windows 8.1 now stop?

It has been unreal to see the speculation about this one element in the now confirmed Windows 8.1 update to Windows 8 which was formerly known under the codename Windows Blue.

Many thought Microsoft was going to see this as an opportunity to charge users for the point update to its oft maligned Windows 8 OS and of course they then wrote about how that would or would not be a good choice.  Now add to that the discussion that this update is Microsoft fixing all that is wrong with Windows 8 and you just have a lot of hot air and continued speculation.

If you look back at Microsoft’s history with their modern OS updates, i.e. service packs, they often add and remove features from the OS via the service pack as it is being applied to a Windows OS and not once have they charged for those service packs.

Why would this update to Windows 8 be any different?  Is it because so many dislike the OS and want to see features in the OS such as Boot to Desktop and a return of the Start Menu button?

Think back to Windows Vista and its RTM release. It was horrible on the current hardware of the day and was panned for being such a poor performer.  When Microsoft released its first enhancements and performance improvements to that OS via a service pack there was no question of it being something we would pay for yet today we have the opposite conversation occurring relating to Windows 8.

Bottom line is that Tami Reller, Microsoft’s CFO and CMO for Windows, confirmed today at JP Morgan’s Technology, Media and Telecom Conference in Boston that Windows Blue will be known as Windows 8.1 and will be available for free in the Windows Store on both Windows X86/x64 and Windows RT.

Windows 8.1 is expected to be available for a Public Preview program in late June and the release should be around the beginning of the Microsoft BUILD 2013 Conference for developers being held in San Francisco.