Whether you’ve been putting off an upgrade or waiting patiently for Microsoft to fix the things about Windows 8 that have been annoying you, there’s good news today. Microsoft has confirmed that Windows 8.1 will be available on October 17.Remember: this is a free update. All you have to do to get it installed on your Windows 8 system is to make sure Windows Update is working properly and then wait patiently for the bits to rain down from the cloud. Direct download links will no doubt surface, too, and we’ll be sure to share them with you once they appear.Windows 8.1 isn’t just a service pack. There are plenty of bug fixes, security patches, and stability tweaks, sure, but it’s also loaded with new features. Many of those features are aimed at throwing water on the fires of Start Screen hatred.You’ll be able to tell Windows 8.1 that you want to boot directly to the Desktop by clicking through to your taskbar properties and selecting the navigation tab. The Start Button has also made a comeback, but it’s not wired in to a tiny Start Menu like it was in previous Windows versions.No, it’ll bring up the full Start Screen when you click it. You can, however, at least tell Windows 8.1 to list desktop apps first and to always display the All Apps view when you click it. It’s not an identical experience, but it might be more comfortable for some Windows users.Microsoft has also made several improvements to how Windows 8.1 handles multiple monitors, and it’s also equipped to handle 3D printers. It’s definitely one of the most ambitious updates in Microsoft history.Check out Microsoft’s teaser video to see Windows 8.1 in action, and mark your calendar for October 17… the update kicks off at 4 am PST!