We are now nearing the end of a very long journey. Rumors first floated up earlier this year that Microsoft was hard at work on the first upgrade to its Windows 8 platform.

Since then it is has been a nearly unstoppable flow of leaks, information, screenshots, gossip, analysis and whatnot mixed in with a bucket load of official details straight from Microsoft. An important milestone was reached when Microsoft unleashed Windows 8.1 Preview to general public in late June.

Redmond soon officially announced that it will release the final build of the OS to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) sometime in late August. Now a new report claims that Microsoft is very close to finishing work on Windows 8.1 and the operating system could go gold anytime.

How close you ask? Imminently close!

As part of this week’s episode of the Weekly Windows Podcast on Twit.tv, famed Microsoft watcher Mary Jo Foley of ZDNet said that her insider sources have confirmed that Windows 8.1 has now reached the escrow testing period.

Microsoft could soon announce that the operating system has gone gold any day now, and the operating system could become available to MSDN subscribers sometime next week.

Obviously, there are a few key milestones that still remain. One is the date when the RTM version goes live, another is when the first Windows 8.1 product is unveiled, and yet another is when the operating system hits general availability.

Mary Jo Foley and Ed Bott, also of ZDNet, both speculate that Microsoft may even decide to have a big launch event for Windows 8.1 — similar to what Redmond did for Windows 8 — particularly if the company also launches the next generation Surface slates at the same time along with the OS.

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  • Mike Greenway

    It will be fun to try it when it gets here. Free Fun too!

  • Ray C

    I like what I’ve seen in the preview.