Microsoft releases to manufacturing Windows 8.1

Microsoft releases to manufacturing Windows 8.1

Summary: Word is Microsoft has released Windows 8.1 to manufacturing. There's still no indication that developers or users are going to get the gold bits before October 18.

TOPICS: Windows 8, Tablets, PCs

They said they'd do it by the end of August. And as we head into the last stretch, it seems Microsoft has released to manufacturing (RTMed) Windows 8.1, its next release of Windows.


Windows SuperSite editor Paul Thurrott tweeted on August 23 that Windows 8.1 had RTM'd. Thurrott said the final RTM build number is 9600.16384.130821-1623.

I talked to another contact of mine who said the internal RTM e-mail made the rounds inside the Windows division on August 23. A third source close to the company confirmed Microsoft RTM'd Windows 8.1  on August 23, and announced internally that the quality metrics for Windows 8.1 were back in line with those of Windows 7. (The vast amount of changes in the Windows 8 code base resulted in an increased number of crashes and hangs for Windows 8, one of my contacts explained.)

I asked a Microsoft spokesperson if Windows 8.1 RTM'd on August 23 and was told the company had no comment.

Microsoft may have opted against announcing Windows 8.1's  RTM on Friday so that the news wouldn't be overshadowed by the announcement that CEO Steve Ballmer is retiring some time within the next 12 months. As I blogged previously, my sources said Microsoft was targeting Monday August 26 as the day it would RTM Windows 8.1.

In June, officials said that Microsoft would be providing the final RTM bits to OEMs before the end of August.

The real question on some developers', IT pros' and other users' minds is whether Microsoft will make the RTM bits available to anyone early. In other words, will TechNet and MSDN subscribers get the Windows 8.1 gold bits in the next couple weeks or so, as Microsoft has done traditionally?

As I've noted previously, my sources said that Microsoft's game plan is to withhold the Windows 8.1 RTM bits until launch this year, which means almost no one outside (other than OEMs) would get officially released Windows 8.1 bits until October 18. 

Microsoft may reverse that decision, but on the server side of the house, officials admitted that the Windows Server 2012 R2, System Center 2012 R2 and Windows Intune Wave E offerings won't go to anyone in final form before October 18.

Windows 8.1, codenamed "Blue," is introducing a number of changes designed to make the new operating system more palatable to current Windows users. Windows 8.1 is adding a Start Button, a boot-straight-to-desktop option; the ability to unpin all Metro apps; built-in tutorials; an improved Windows Store and a host of other consumer- and business-focused features. Microsoft launched its one and only Windows 8.1 consumer preview test build in late June.

Topics: Windows 8, Tablets, PCs


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Sounds nice.

    Still awaiting the retail release of Blue, however.

    Anyone/Any testers know about battery-life improvements?
    • I've been using 8.1 on my atom based tablet

      for a while now. I haven't noticed any difference in my battery life (~10 hrs and unchanged from stock 8.0). That's all I can give you as I sold my i5 laptop when I bought the hybrid.
      Sam Wagner
    • Real Release

      The real release is after you go on line and get all the updates. Think of this way, the RTM is a seed, the computer it is put in is the soil. Nothing happens until you add water. Only then do you see the real plant. Even then it takes a few months to grow before it blooms.
    • 8.1 (blue)...

      ...may manage battery a little better but the real efficiency will be gained by switching to the haswell chipset. I know that's not practical for your existing PC, but there is only so much that can be gained in software. Win8 (with all its warts) does a good job with power mgmt so don't expect miracles with 8.1.
  • Theme song

    Who let the dogs out? Woof!
  • Of course, the question is... "Will it work"...

    Or be another Vista sized failure.
    • Let's measure a Vista sized failure

      Bigger than all osx versions combined.

      Bigger than all Linux desktop versions combined.

      Yeah, that would suck if it was a Vista sized failure.
      • Bigger than all Linux desktop versions combined.

        That would be an accomplishment.
        • It was still a failure

          As it was Windows 8 so far.
          People can paint the numbers the color they want - it's irrelevant.
          The probably fired (or similar) Ballmer predicted 500 million Windows 8 users till the end of this year!... Obviously he is known for his "insane" predictions at times... maybe too boost moral...

          I believe 8.1 it's a better 8, but still not good enough - mainly not for tablets.
          I predict a boost in sales for traditional desktops.
          • 8.1 is going nowhere

            It's a third finger at all the critics of Windows 8. Didn't like that? We'll show YOU.

            I don't know if you heard, but Android/Linux moves more units per day than Windows ever did by 5x. Linux runs almost all of the Top500 supercomputers too, and everything in between. Linux won.
          • That's cute

            When real programs are built to run on Android, we can start putting it in desktop-caliber discussions. And yes, I would say Windows RT is NOT a real desktop OS in its present form either. If/when your heavy duty productivity resource hog programs are releasing only a Modern version or else the Modern version is just as feature-rich as the desktop version, then it can be used in the same conversation. Also, just because you might be able to fudge getting Photoshop or some heavy duty video/sound editing software a professional would use onto an Intel-based Android desktop doesn't make it the case for all systems. I should be able to go to the store and buy the ready-made system and buy/download retail versions of the software.

            As far as Office goes, it is a gray area program. Yes, it's a productivity suite available on RT, however you can get largely the same experience on the web-apps meaning it is more of a hybrid program at this point in time.
          • Just move the goalposts why dont you

            Linux != Android. How desperate you are to prop up a failed OS.
          • "Linux != Android. How desperate you are to prop up a failed OS."

            "Linux != Android. How desperate you are to prop up a failed OS."

            Unsuccessful your hands and your fingers
            Staiki Kiev
          • No wandering goalposts here

            The OP said, "Android/Linux moves more units per day". In effect, the OP was attempting to imply that Linux as a desktop OS is hugely successful by tying it to the success of Android on mobile devices. Linux, as a desktop OS, has very poor penetration and market-share, despite many freely available builds.

            I'm running Ubuntu on one of my laptops, and the experience has been largely agreeable for the use case. But that use case involves my wife and her tendency to download/install as much Windows-targeted adware as she can find. With Linux, her options have been severely reduced, as have my home "support calls". "Sorry, honey - that doesn't run on this OS."
          • Haha

            Seriously are you comparing shipments of smartphone to computers ? No shit sherlock !

            Linux is till nowhere to be seen on the desktop,moving goalpost is a lame excuse, the fact is, Linux hasn't won and will never win. That is a certainty.
      • And iPhone alone is bigger than all of Microsoft

        The phone that Balmer dismissed with a laugh, by the way.
        • Bhahahahah

          IPhone will be dead in few years time... the market share is decreasing daily and so does Apple stock.
      • thanks needed a laugh

        no thanks really.
      • Vista +

        Everything Microsoft makes...EVERYTHING, still is less than the revenue and profit made by just the iPhone.

        Numbers only count if you can spend them.

        OS X can only run on Apple hardware. Windows can run on any piece of junk that anyone makes.
        • Yes, Windows can run on a vast array of hardware

          That's the best thing about it. I can run on a cheap, nearly throw-away computer or a fancy $2k laptop or a $3k ultimate gaming machine.

          One thing you need to give Win8 credit for is the blossoming of computer form factors that has happened over the past year. Some are a little odd (and will likely end up by the side of the road). Others are a lot more interesting. Win8 has certainly spawned some innovation on the hardware side.