Microsoft is having a busy week: It announced Windows 8.1 will ship to PC makers in late August, and is also reportedly going to reveal a restructuring. And CEO Steve Ballmer described Microsoft's philosophy toward social business.
During its Worldwide Partner conference, Microsoft announced PC manufacturers will get Windows 8.1 as the summer winds down, and the operating system update will come pre-loaded on devices sold this holiday season. All Windows users will get access to the software free of charge later this year.
Eager users can get a preview version on Microsoft's website.
The update addresses many complaints that users had about Windows 8 and gives it business-friendly features, including the ability to optionally boot directly into the desktop mode, as well as new management features that will appeal to IT.
Microsoft hasn't disclosed the public launch date for Windows 8.1. The company says it will come in the autumn. However, we could see a timetable similar to last year's Windows 8. Microsoft announced Windows 8's Release to Manufacturing (RTM) Aug. 1 and launched it Oct. 26.
Regarding the reorganization: AllThingsD reports Ballmer will unveil a restructuring plan on Thursday, organizing the company "around services -- or software -- and devices, both in the consumer and business sectors." Microsoft wants to focus the company around fewer efforts and eliminate overlapping function.
That includes a new cloud computing and business-focused products unit headed by current Servers & Tools head Satya Nadella; Online Services leader Qi Lu could add Microsoft Office and other apps to his portfolio that already includes the Bing search service; Julie Larson-Green, who now co-heads Windows efforts, is in line to be in charge of all devices from Surface to Xbox, as well as music and TV services; and Windows Phone chief Terry Myerson is expected to take over Windows engineering and platforms.
AllThingsD has more on top executives and their new positions.
Also at the partner conference, Ballmer gave his view of social. CITEworld notes that Ballmer is often late to tech trends, but Microsoft understands social very well. SharePoint is an early example of a social business tool; the company paid more than $1 billion for Yammer last year; invested in Facebook in 2007; and bought Skype.
"Some people think social is one product. I don't. Social is a way of working," Ballmer said. It's about collaborating both inside an organization and between organizations, connecting with customers and putting on realtime events.
'Refined Blend' Windows 8.1 Gets Business-Friendly
Windows 8.1: This Isnít the Start Button Weíre Looking For
Microsoft Sweetens the Pot on Windows 8 & Surface Tablets
ó Mitch Wagner , Editor in Chief, Internet Evolution