Surprise! What you can expect from Windows 8 RTM

Surprise! What you can expect from Windows 8 RTM

Summary: Microsoft has officially made the final release of Windows 8 available to subscribers of its MSDN and TechNet services. You'll find a handful of small surprises, one very large change from Windows 7, and a momentous name change.

TOPICS: Windows, Microsoft

The slow march of Windows 8 to its wide-scale release on October 26 continues.

On August 1, Microsoft released the final code to manufacturing. Today’s milestone is the first public availability of those RTM bits, to developers and IT pros who are subscribers to Microsoft’s MSDN and TechNet subscription services.


There's a new build number, of course: 9200. (Trivia: Windows RTM build numbers in he modern era are always divisible by 16.) Its official version number is 6.2, making it part of the same evolutionary line as Windows 7 (6.1) and Windows Vista (6.0).

If you’ve spent any time with the Release Preview, you’ll see only small changes in the RTM code. The biggest difference is that the free previews are over, and you’ll have to pay (or find a trial version) to evaluate Windows 8 from here on out.

See also:

I’ve had a very brief head start with the RTM bits, long enough to install them on a couple of test machines and share some first impressions. It’s still too early to offer up a final review, with two very large pieces of the ecosystem still missing: the “modern” (nee Metro) apps, as well as what will presumably be a large number of devices built specifically for Windows 8.

I installed Windows 8 Pro on a pair of physical test machines and on one virtual machine, performing one clean install, one upgrade from Windows 7, and one upgrade from a Windows 8 preview. All three installations went quickly and without hiccups of any kind. (It's worth noting that upgrading from the Windows 8 Release Preview migrates files and settings but does not preserve installed apps.)

One big change in setup: You can't install Windows 8 Pro without entering a product key. (That's how the previews worked as well.) 


If you've become accustomed to installing Windows 7 without entering a product key so that you can use it in evaluation mode for 30 days, you'll definitely miss that option. After installation, activation is automatic. If you use a product key that's already been used on another PC, you'll be unable to personalize some parts of the Windows 8 environment.

On an unactivated PC, you'll get regular notifications that you need to enter a valid product key. This message appeared in the upper left corner of the screen just now when I tried to visit PC Settings on an unactivated Windows 8 test PC. It didn't appear to block any functionality, nor did the notifications degrade any features. It appears to be strictly a speed bump. (I'll be looking into the exact implementation of activation and product key checking in the next few weeks.)


The setup routine includes one new element designed to address criticisms that the new user interface is unintuitive. While Windows creates a new user account, it displays a brief series of messages (starting with "Hi") and an animated tutorial that point out how to find the new Charms menu.


Next page: Do Not Track and more

Topics: Windows, Microsoft

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • So it's still a FUGLY Mess

    Thanks for the review - I think we've Met Microsoft Bob Sr.
    • Fantastically chic and easy on the eyes.

      Nouveau and avant garde interface.
      Love it!
      milo ducillo
      • activation key eye candy

        Didn't know you were into that, milo.

        Maybe you should go back to AOL and help them out on that 1998 interface. Hmmm?

        • Oh listen to you, nomorems et al.

          We know you are stuck on the icon based interface first introduced in the 70s then stolen by Apple just like someone that would walk onto your property and steal your dog.
          You must be so happy that Apple and Android UIs are still driven by screens full of icons.
          And you never mentioned how much you loved Win95 through Windows 7 before.....that's big of you to finally admit you love those UIs. I do too, win7 with the active task bar is the best OS in the world. That's why it's the choice of enterprises everywhere in the world. How about the linux client? You'd think with that icon interface you feel so strongly about, it would have found it's way into a few homes. Hmmm...25 years later and still......nuttin. ahhhhh. it's ok.
          • You're just ignorant

            too bad for you; anyhow, I know is without hope but I will explain you with simple words:
            The best general purpose OS in this galaxy and surrounding areas is Mac OS X Lion, period.
            I know what I'm talking, I use both OS's, day in day out, 7 hrs in W7 every day, 5 Hrs & weekends in Lion. W7 is simply an inferior OS.
          • Yeah, and unlike Win7

            Lion is upgradeable
          • @CaviarBlack

            "Yeah, and unlike Win7
            Lion is upgradeable"

            [x] iDiot
          • nomorems, unlike OS X

            Windows 7 does not get MEGA and MONSTER patches several times a year with literally hundreds of bug fixes in each one, many of which are critical, with remote code execution possibile.
            That's what Apple hides so well. Only recently with some measure of success selling Macintosh Worms, are they getting slammed wtih malware, but before that Apple cultists would dismiss these fixes as "not needed".
            But that does not take away the fact that the OS was totally exploitable, remotely, if someone had bothered to exploit it. There just weren't any terrorists nor criminals interested in 3% of the market.
            I am not going to ever trust and use an OS that gets patched so heavily to the point it's got dozens of layers of band aids, like OS X. Your ilk has tried to paint Windows like this, but OS X has to patch exploitable code at a rate of 20:1 to Windows. If an OS is exploitable remotely, it just is, whether anyone actually takes advantage of it or not. I'm not going to risk PHI to that kind of worm OS.
            We've never had any Windows exploits of any severity whatsoever.
          • Explain.

            How is Win7 not upgradeable?
          • And you think the world revolves around your opinion

            I own macs. I provide support for macs. I deploy iPads. However, I prefer windows 7 to mac os any day of the week.

            I know what I'm talking about as I use both OS's day in and day out (and I use macs at work too).

            But congrats to mac os x lion for such innovative features as re-sizing all four corners of a window. Real groundbreaking stuff there.
          • Apple knows best!

            I like the feature that turns off the second monitor every time I run a program full screen. Apple knows I would never need the second screen when I'm running a program full screen, especially in a production environment. I once thought I would need it to take notes, but if I did need it I'm sure apple would not have blanked it out, so I must have been wrong.
          • Windows UI > OSX UI

            While I agree OSX is technically superior in many ways, it is inferior to windows in its desktop UI. OSX has a lot of flaws in UI ergonomics compared to Windows.
            Multiple monitor support - if you have used OSX with multiple monitors, you have no doubt found a lot of flaws. From wallpapers screwing up when you attach/detach/power on/off extra screens to the frustration in trying to use apps in fullscreen mode. In windows, it just works!
            Biggest problem with OSX UI is the way the menubar is detached from windows. While Apple Inc may say this is not a flaw but a feature, try and use multiple monitors and then edit an icon in a window on one screen and then have to drag your mouse across screens to access the menu for that little window! If I want to detach controls, let me choose it. Forced detached controls is bad UI ergonomics.
            What the hell was the OSX people thinking when they used 3 coloured circle icons as window controls? What the hell does red, yellow, green mean to a complete noob? intuitive? hardly. Why didn't they just leave the icon symbols showing rather than auto-hide it. When you run your mouse over the icons, the symbols appear, when you run your mouse over the control icons in windows 8, text description appears in addition to the static icons which do not autohide. UI information in windows 8 is a level above that of OSX. Form over function is bad for information and OSX is inferior to Windows in this regard.
            Windows Taskbar is what the OSX Dock wants to be when it grows up. OSX dock is inefficient and wasting space with dead corners.
            There's a lot of UI things with regards to OSX vs Windows, but it just seems like OSX is 95% finished in the UI department because they spent most of their effort in aesthetics rather than optimising functionality.
          • I like where you went, but flawed premise..

            "While I agree OSX is technically superior in many ways," Describe the technical superiorities, as well. This statement, which you use as a standing, unopposed premise, holds no basis for any further discussion unless you can disprove any contending arguments in the same nonchalant fashion. Otherwise, you've provided as your very basis of your continuation argument, something that is not proven. To any thinking individual, doing so likely removes a large degree of credibility from your subsequent musings.

            Here's a lesson: Since the moon as everyone knows is made of cream cheese, has been a topic of great discussion...

            So, yah, your argument is based on a 'cream cheese' similar premise.
          • Warboat

            i made a account just to comment on all this mac vs win and you guys are leaving out linux and unix systems by any chance can we at least have some sort of recognition there.

          • mac vs win

            OSX Is unix. 'nuff said.
          • Dumbed down beyound belief

            *nix is for nerdy geeks, OSX is for idiots (who think they are smart) and windows (7 and earlier) is for everyone else.
          • Matter of opinion theo_durcan

            And first, let me clue you in. I was responding to a poster who now calls himself caviarblack. He's been on here for years and banned under many other names for his lewd language and ad hominem attacks on anyone that uses Windows. He's been known, for example, in the past as nomorems and too many others to even start naming them. They are all quite forgettable anyway and I really don't recall the majority. nomorems was the one he was using when I first visited zdnet, back when they didn't pull your post or ban you for F bombs and vulgar language of which is this person's specialty.
            Secondly, it all depends on what you are doing. I can write quick and easy scripts natively on Windows, build first rate apps in minutes. You can't do that on OS X. They will never top Visual Studio for code developement and it's probably why they've licensed software from Microsoft in the past for that purpose. The Apple II machines came with AppleSoft basic, which I actually really loved and wrote some very large programs with for a client a long time ago. Applesoft basic was written by the fine folks at Microsoft and licensed to Apple.
            OS X is too locked down for my tastes. I like to get down to the nitty gritty of the system for a large variety of good reasons when it comes to dealing with the network or programming. There is just so much you can't do on OS X unless all you are interested in is browsing the web or taking notes. Perhaps you plan on starting a band soon, who knows?
            The combination of the Windows 7 client on a Windows server 2008 network can't be beat, hands down, I've never used a more user friendly, easy to setup network, ever. I've worked many years with Unix/Linux networks, the guts of OS X and Windows just blows it out of the water.
            They've got it so nailed down at this point that their server share continues to eat away at the Unix shops, like it did initially in very large numbers.
            I've used OS X and there is nothing there for me. It's not faster than Windows 7 and it's not more intuitive than Windows 7 to me. The active task bar is far more useful than the OS X program interface.
            The taskbar keeps an image of the last used shot of a session, for one small example. So if like me and you have 20 or 30 or more, sessions on your taskbar at all times, and you are working on Large systems that require the client to timeout to security This is a huge productivity enhancement to see the last screen you were working on and not the login screen. That is one very small item, but Win 7 is so much more of a great network client and also a great all around machine. OS X may be a nifty home client but that's about it and you are locked out of most system areas, which is ok for the grandmas and grandpas of the world but the rest of us needs the power of Windows 7 or 8.
            Now you will see the same interface on both tablets and laptops.
          • Do you really like Lion, or...

            ... just hate your day job?
          • W7 is simply an inferior OS.

            "I know what I'm talking, I use both OS's, day in day out, 7 hrs in W7 every day, 5 Hrs & weekends in Lion."

            For a moment, suppose no one here knows you, and thusly has zero trust in your ability to ascertain your ass from a hole in the ground. Why then, should any of us take your word against numerous arguments to the contrary? Shall we all simply praise your 'time on task' of learning Windows 7 vs Lion, and accept that somehow your learning curve is similar to EVERYONE here, or greater?

            Next time... pose an argument in a manner that doesn't place you in direct competition with the learning curve and experience of others. Make some concrete statements, at least. Otherwise, you've wasted font storage space and scrolling momentum for other readers.
          • Inferiority?

            Depends on what you are using it for.
            Michael Frost