Microsoft continues to finalize its Windows 8.1 update, but the company revealed today that it plans to make it available on October 18th. The free update will be listed in the Windows Store for existing Windows 8 users at 7AM ET on October 17th, with boxed copies, new hardware, and a full retail release on October 18th. The final copy of Windows 8, known as Release to Manufacturing (RTM), is expected to be made available to PC makers and partners in the coming weeks. Sources familiar with Microsoft's plans previously revealed to The Verge that Microsoft plans to update and patch Windows 8.1 in the weeks leading up to the October release.

Windows 8.1 includes a number of improvements over the Windows 8 release. Microsoft is bringing the Start button back with the 8.1 update, improving multitasking, and tweaking its UI for smaller Live Tiles and 7- and 8-inch tablets. Although Microsoft won't say what types of new hardware will be made available on October 18th, we're expecting to see a number of new smaller Windows 8.1 devices in the coming months.