Windows 8.1: New Opportunity for Microsoft Partners

Microsoft officials discuss how Windows 8.1 provides new opportunities for partners to bring more apps to more devices for customers.

HOUSTON—Microsoft announced that Windows 8.1 will be made available to OEMs in late August and that partners should take advantage of the new features in the operating system to deliver new apps to customers.

In a keynote session at Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) 2013, Tami Reller, Microsoft's chief financial officer and chief marketing officer for Windows, went deep on Microsoft's strategy for partners with the company's major platforms, including Windows, Windows Phone and more.

"I'm also quite happy to be able to confirm today that Windows 8.1 will be available for our OEM partners in late August," Reller said. "Meaning that holiday devices, many of them will have Windows 8.1. So late August available to OEMs. So very pleased to confirm that today."

Microsoft released Windows 8.1 Preview at the Build 2013 developer conference last month—this new update gives partners more tools and features to build on and sell to their customers.

Reller said it is becoming apparent that Windows is becoming more of a destination for developers, with more than 100 million licenses for the OS sold and more than 100,000 apps in the Windows Store. Moreover, customers who want line-of-business apps on Windows 8 need partners to help them, she said.

"One thing we're seeing is that about two out of three enterprise organizations are investing today in mobile applications," Reller said. "So it's a great opportunity to build a practice around building line-of-business applications, modern design on Windows 8. And Windows 8.1 makes that even more obvious."

Meanwhile, in a July 8 blog post, Erwin Visser, general manager of Windows commercial marketing at Microsoft, said Windows 8.1 includes a broad range of new business enhancements in user experience, and improvements in manageability, security, mobility and networking, providing customers with the best business tablets and great PC choices across all device form factors.

Moreover, to encourage partners and customers to test Windows 8.1, Microsoft is offering WPC attendees Windows 8.1 Enterprise Preview during select sessions at the conference, with bits available to download through TechNet in the coming weeks, Visser said.

Visser listed a few reasons why partners should jump on the Windows 8 wave. For one, tablet share is growing rapidly, especially for business users, he said. "Businesses are asking for no compromise tablets with consumer benefits along with the security, productivity, mobility and management features they need. Windows 8 is the best tablet for business."

Indeed, "Surface is hands down more productive than an iPad," Reller said. "Hands down. It's a great tablet for business because it quickly goes from tablet to laptop."

And with Windows 8.1, Surface only gets better, she said. "Windows is the foundation to trust," Reller said. "With Windows today and moving forward, partners are absolutely central to our strategy. You always have been, and you always will. ... Windows 8 tablet is, hands down, the best tablet for business."