A week after announcing Windows 8.1 was not going to be made available early to developers, Microsoft is getting closer to making available the near-final release-candidate (RC) test build of its Visual Studio 2013 tool.
Last week, I heard from sources that Microsoft was making VS 2013 RC available internally. The company also may have made the RC bits available to a handful of select third-party developers, sources said late last week.
On September 2, WinBeta.org reported that the RC of Visual Studio 2013 had leaked to the Web. (I saw that report via Neowin.Net.)
The availability of the RC is interesting in light of Microsoft's decision to withhold the Windows 8.1 RTM bits from MSDN/TechNet and volume licensees until Windows 8.1 launches on October 18. (Some handpicked developers who are building apps that Microsoft wants to showcase at launch are getting the RTM bits, according to Peter Bright at Ars Technica -- something Microsoft officials confirmed when I asked.)
The decision not to make the RTM bits available early has angered a number of Windows developers who said they need earlier access to the RTM bits in order to test and deliver their Windows Store/Metro-Style apps in a timely fashion.
But a number of Windows 8 developers said they actually needed the final Visual Studio 2013 bits and software development kit (SDK) more than they needed the Windows 8.1 RTM bits. Microsoft delivered a preview of Visual Studio 2013 in late June and officials have said the RTM version of VS2013 will be out before the end of calendar 2013.
Microsoft is advising developers to use the preview of Visual Studio 2013, coupled with the consumer preview of Windows 8.1, to build Windows 8.1 apps and migrate their existing Windows 8 apps to Windows 8.1. The Windows Store won't be open for Windows 8.1 app publishing until October 18, Microsoft officials confirmed on August 27.
It might help take the some of the sting out of Microsoft's decision to withhold the RTM bits from developers if the company delivered to testers an RC and the final versions of Visual Studio 2013 before October 18.
I asked Microsoft whether it was close to making Visual Studio 2013 RC available and received the following from a spokesperson:
"Visual Studio 2013 will be available later this year. We’ll have additional information to share in coming weeks.Visual Studio 2013 Preview is available now for developers who want to build for Windows 8.1."
The spokesperson added that the company will provide updates as soon as there's something to share publicly.
I'd expect Microsoft to continue to provide regular, near quarterly updates for Visual Studio 2013 once it RTMs, the same way it has done with Visual Studio 2012.