It was just the other day when a rumor appeared saying Windows 8.1 will be available sometime in October. Today Microsoft has confirmed that, as Windows 8.1 arrives on October 17. Curiously the announcement mentions a start date of 12:00am on October 18 in New Zealand, which is 4:00am in Redmond, Washington (Microsoft headquarters) on October 17. It's a unique way to say the update will be available worldwide on that date, but it gets the job done. Windows 8.1 is a free update for all Windows 8 users via the Windows Store, with retail locations and new devices getting it on October 18. There's no mention of what those new devices are going to be, as Microsoft only lists already available PCs, laptops, and tablets.
Windows 8.1 includes many improvements to the Windows 8 experience, such as a Start menu, boot to desktop, and a more user friendly experience. There's just about two months to go before it arrives in earnest, and if you just can't wait to see what it'll be like, the Windows 8.1 Preview is still available.