MICROSOFT EVENT: Latest Windows adjustments

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By RYAN NAKASHIMA, Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Microsoft is using a three-day conference this week to give people a peek into Windows 8.1, a free update that promises to address some of the gripes people have with the latest version of the company's flagship operating system. A preview version of Windows 8.1 was released Wednesday at the start of the Build conference for Microsoft partners and other technology developers.

Although many of the new features have been shown off already, the conference offers the company a chance to explain some of the reasoning behind the update and sell developers on Microsoft's ambitions to regain relevance lost to Apple's iPad and various devices running Google's Android software.

There's also speculation that Microsoft could show off a new, smaller version of its Surface tablet computers.

Windows 8, which was released Oct. 26, was meant to be Microsoft's answer to changing customer behaviors and the rise of tablet computers. The operating system emphasizes touch controls over the mouse and the keyboard, which had been the main way people have interacted with their personal computers since the 1980s. But some people have been put off by the radical makeover. Research firm IDC blamed Windows 8 for accelerating a decline in PC shipments worldwide.

Microsoft's event is taking place at The Moscone Center in San Francisco. The keynote kicked off shortly after 9 a.m. PDT.

Here's a running account of the event, presented in reverse chronological order. All times are PDT. Presenters include CEO Steve Ballmer.

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9:05 a.m.

Ballmer appears on stage to welcome 6,000 people at the conference and an estimated 60,000 watching live on a webcast. The audience includes hardware vendors and software developers.

Ballmer warns that Microsoft won't be talking much about the Xbox, Skype and Office 365, as there have been recent announcements on those. Rather, he's there to talk about Windows and related services. He says the announcements he has planned underscore Microsoft's transformation to "an absolutely rapid-release cycle."

A preview version of the upcoming Windows 8.1 was made available at the start of the conference at http://preview.windows.com

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