Microsoft reverses course; releases Windows 8.1 RTM to developers

Microsoft reverses course; releases Windows 8.1 RTM to developers

Summary: Microsoft is making the 'gold' Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2 bits available to developers and volume licensees ahead of the October 18 general-availability date, after all.


The Microsoft course reversals -- such as the reintroduction of a Windows Start Button and the cancellation of the "Always On" requirement for Xbox One -- are continuing.


The latest 180, announced by the company on September 9, is that MSDN/TechNet subscribers and volume licensees are going to be able to get their hands on the Windows 8.1 release to manufacturing (RTM) bits early, after all. In fact, Microsoft is making the RTM versions of Windows 8.1 and Windows 8.1 Pro available to those groups today, September 9, starting at 10 a.m. PST. Microsoft also will be releasing the RTM version of Windows Server 2012 R2 to MSDN/TechNet and volume licensees today.

The Windows 8.1 Enterprise SKU will be available to MSDN/TechNet and volume licensees before the end of September, officials said today. The RTM version of Windows 8.1 RT still isn't going to be released early. (Windows 8.1 RT has leaked to the Web, however.)

Update (September 12): If you're a volume licensee, you might want to read this about how/when/if you can get the Windows 8.1 RTM bits early.

Microsoft's decision, reiterated a couple of weeks ago, was to withhold the RTM bits from everyone until October 18, the official "launch" of the product. This unprecedented move resulted in outcry from many -- especially developers. Some devs maintained they needed the RTM bits to make sure their current Windows apps work with the soon-to-be-released update to Windows 8. (The devs also need the RTM version of Visual Studio 2013 to get their updated Windows apps ready. The near-final but not-yet-RTM version of Visual Studio 2013, the Release Candidate build, is available to developers today, as well.

Why the change of heart around early access? Microsoft execs say they heard loud and clear that the original decision not to provide partners with the RTM bits early made for "a big challenge" for those preparing for 8.1 availability. (I'm not quite sure why it took expected, vociferous complaints for Microsoft management to realize this, but at least they are responding.)

The Windows Store still won't be open early for submission of updated and new applications; that still is slated for October 18, which is general availability/launch day for Windows 8.1. "The RTM versions of tools, services, and platform are required for store submissions," Microsoft officials reminded developers in a blog post today.

Microsoft will be continuing to "refine and update the product and tools in preparation for Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 general availability on October 18 and the release of Visual Studio 2013 RTW (release to Web, which is October 18)," according to today's blog post. Updates to built-in drivers and bundled apps are continuing. Microsoft plans to push these updates to PC makers just before October 18.

Third-party apps may require "final refinement to onboard" by the time of the October 18 general availability milestone, the post cautions. However, from what I've heard, the RTM versions of Windows 8.1/Windows Server 2012 R2 and the RC version of Visual Studio 2013 should provide developers with what they need, from an application programming interface (API) and feature perspective so they can get their apps in the store quickly after October 18.

Microsoft RTM'd Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2 on August 24 and announced RTM on August 27. Officials said they had decided against making the RTM bits available to anyone but PC makers because it was still putting "the finishing touches" on the operating systems.

I'll be curious to see -- if Microsoft continues releasing new versions of Windows on an annual or near-annual basis -- whether it will continue to release RTM bits early to developers and volume licensees or try to change that historical pattern in the future.

Topics: Windows 8, Microsoft, Software Development, Windows Server


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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  • Microsoft reverses course; releases Windows 8.1 RTM to developers

    Now I won't have to listen to the developers cry anymore.
    • Now a Finished product

      I think Ms needed more time to make sure the drivers list was complete. The manufacturer needed to fill-in the blanks. They need good press right now and releasing an unstable product because of drivers would have been another problem for them.
      • Developers don't care about unstable product

        Most of our boxes are rickety, need to be reinstalled experiments at the best of times. We need the bits to do the work, not to look pretty.
      • Good point

        I was thinking, I respect someone more who admits their mistake and fixes it than someone who never makes mistakes.
        • Well...

          I respect someone who never makes mistakes (and hopefully isn't too cocky about it) more than someone who admits their mistakes and fixes them, but I have no respect for people who make mistakes, refuse to admit them and do nothing about them.
          • So, basically...

            You said: "I respect someone who never makes mistakes"

            So, basically, you respect no one? There is absolutely no one on this planet who never makes mistakes.
    • No but they will continue to cry about

      the same things they have been and there are a lot of things.
      • DrWong's words courtesy Google paid stuff

        Ram U
    • So you definitely are not a developer.

      No wonder you put such stupid comments.
      • Neither are you.

        I'm what you'd consider a "mainstream" developer.

        I use 7, 8, and OS X for creating my applications.

        Was I angry about not about not getting 8.1 RTM?


        Was it a big deal?


        I'm not building PCs, so why would I need an RTM version of Windows?

        I don't code drivers, I just use SDKs to make my programs and apps for phones.

        Sure, I disliked the fact that MS didn't give me the early release, but I was angry as a consumer, not a developer.

        I wanted to play with the RTM, and that's about it.

        The fact that I do get the RTM? Sounds good, but it's not that important to me.
        • same here

          i wonder how many developers that do not work for OEMs did really need the RTM?
          • You're kidding, right?

            You don't throw an app up into production without testing on the code you're really going to run on. And even if you are that cowboy that you'd do that, you can't deploy to the store with the current bits or Visual Studio.

            Now - can a developer wait? Yep. But so in that case is Microsoft, to get Windows 8.1 apps in the store.
          • Of course

            Apps written for 8 still work on 8.1 so it's not like Microsoft is starting from scratch when winRT apps are concerned. For apps that are specifically taking advantage of additions to WinRT made in 8.1, I am sure there isn't a major hurry. Any submissions to the app store are also not permitted before october 18th.
          • Actually...

            If you've had a look at the current 8.1, a few of the WinJS apps have weird behaviour when responding to touch drag events.
            Plus, the way the apps snap into the side is completely different now, it looks ugly if the dev doesn't fix it up.
            All this might change when RTM comes out (ie, were they bugs or are they going to stay?)
          • Well if you want to throw a product you need Visual Studio 2013

            for Windows 8.1. And since how many companies really deployed Windows 8.1?
            Ram U
        • So you put untested software on a new system?

          You don't know what minor thing may cause you to do a major rewrite.

          If you are lucky, it isn't a problem.

          If they "fixed" something that you depended on, you just might have to do a major rewrite.

          I have been a developer in the past. Fortunately, I learned not to develop for Windows, too unstable, and insecure.
          • This isn't another XP -> Vista jump.

            Hell, many Vista applications still work for 7 and 8.

            Microsoft's been pretty good with keeping compatibility with software.

            Remember the Snow Leopard -> Lion problem that Apple had?

            Anyhow, you should stop talking before you hurt yourself, seeing as you just admitted that you're not a Windows developer.

            You have no right to speak here.
          • Re: Remember the Snow Leopard -> Lion problem ....

            Yeah thanks for reminding us. One of the very few things Apple have got wrong. Ammunition for Toddy Owlly and all the other Micro$oft backside sniffers.
          • I actually had a MBP 2011.


            It ran Snow Leopard.

            I was using Photoshop CS2 with it.

            And then, Mountain Lion was installed (I skipped Lion due to reported problems).

            Boom, Photoshop stopped working.

            Photoshop is VERY expensive, so luckily, I had a spare CS4 from my school.

            Am I a Windows fan? Of course I am, I love all operating systems.

            But you don't see me actively insulting Apple users down.

            You're nothing more than a child with a superiority complex.
          • Learn programming first that speak

            @jessepollard not HTML coding. Real programming with real languages and tools. Then we will discuss.
            Ram U