Microsoft has announced it will be updating the key Windows 8 apps before the OS is released on October 26.

The company took to its Building Windows 8 blog to confirm that built-in applications like Mail, Maps, Photos and Bing will be given a final polish, with new features added, before the OS is released.

The updates, which also include new versions of Weather, SkyDrive, Sports, Games, News, Travel, Video, Calendar, People and Messaging, will be available from the Windows 8 Store.

Those lucky developers with the RTM version of Windows 8 installed already will be able to update directly from the store as the new versions land, but all apps will be ready by the public launch date.

Bing will be the first update to be rolled-out on October 5, and will bring "richer search results for local content and images," Bing rewards integration and the ability to use zoom to see related results.

Conversation view and more

The Mail app will be refined to include a inbox conversation view, full IMAP support and improved search, while the Maps app will receive, among other things, a Bird's Eye view feature, maps of 3,000 indoor locations and driving directions hints.

Users will be able to crop and rotate snaps directly from the Photos app and also take advantage of new auto-curated picture slideshows.

Gabriel Aul of the WIndows 8 program management team wrote: "Naturally, these app updates will also be available to PC makers to include by default with their PCs shipping in the future, but for those of you who have already installed Windows 8 RTM, it is super easy to get the updates from the Store app.

"The Store tile will notify you when updates are available, and you can open it and click the updates link in the top right corner to see the list and install the ones you want."

For more from Gabriel and full details of the specific updates on the way to each app, follow the link to the Building Windows 8 blog in the hat-tip below.

Via Windows