Windows 8 reaches RTM: When will you get it?

Windows 8 reaches RTM: When will you get it?

Summary: Windows 8 released to manufacturing today. But when will you be able to download the final code?

TOPICS: Microsoft, Windows

Microsoft today announced that Windows 8 had been released to manufacturing. In a post on the Building 8 blog, Microsoft President Windows Steven Sinofsky, thanked millions of beta testers, noting that "The previews of Windows 8 (Developer, Consumer, Release) have been the most widely and deeply used test releases of any product we have ever done." Over 16 million PCs downloaded preview code, with 7 million running the Release Preview.

The final build is 9200, and will introduce changes to the desktop user interface with a flatter Metro look-and-feel to replace Windows 7's glassy Aero. The touch-centric Metro UI also gets improvements, including new touch gestures for supported trackpads.

Along with the RTM announcement, Microsoft released details of when developers and enterprises would get access to the final code.

  • MSDN and Technet subscribers will get access on 15 August.
  • IT professionals with Software Assurance will be able to download it from the Volume License Service Center from 16 August.
  • Consultants and resellers with access to the Microsoft Action Pack will get download access on 20 August.
  • Businesses without Software Asssurance will be able to purchase licenses from 1 September.
  • Consumer general availability for upgrade downloads and new PC sales is on 26 October.

Windows Server 2012 also released to manufacturing today, and will be available on a similar timescale to Windows 8, as did the Windows developer tools. Developers will get access to Windows 8 development tools on 15 August, with the release of the Visual Studio 2012 to MSDN.

Metro Windows applications will be able to be sold through the Windows Store, which is now open for paid applications, and developers can register for full accounts, though uploads will need the release build of Windows 8. More details for developers will come when Microsoft holds its BUILD developer conference shortly after general availability.

Microsoft also gave guidance for organisations considering Windows 8 rollouts. Businesses currently deploying Windows 7 are advised to continue with their existing deployment programmes, as Windows 8 will run alongside Windows 7. For companies with XP or Vista, Microsoft is advising that businesses begin to plan Windows 8 deployments, with XP extended support due to end in April 2014 and Vista following in 2017.

Topics: Microsoft, Windows

Simon Bisson

About Simon Bisson

Simon Bisson is a freelance technology journalist. He specialises in architecture and enterprise IT. He ran one of the UK's first national ISPs and moved to writing around the time of the collapse of the first dotcom boom. He still writes code.

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  • Service Pack 1

    When they enable turning off metro and bring back some chrome.

    You know its going to happen.
    • Not likely, no.

      The Start Menu code is gone. Done. Finished. However you want to put it, it's done for. And for good reason. Microsoft can't simply throw that back in without massive quality and reliability testing.

      If you want to hear it straight from Microsoft's mouth as to why Windows 8 will never have a Start Menu, you can read it right here. Straight from Microsoft's own Brandon LeBlanc:

      "The start menu you're referring to had a lot of bugs because it wasn't kept in sync with other changes in the platform (i.e. MFU was totally broken, for one). It could not launch Metro style applications. It had no means to even represent them, because Metro style apps provide different resources. Its search infrastructure was similarly incompatible, didn't support new localization features, etc. It did not support our modern DPI scaling mechanism. It had problems with the new multi-mon features (i.e. secondary task bars). And these are just the things I remember off the top of my head. And then, even if we had put in all that effort (or just enough to keep it stumbling along), and sacrificed other features or overall quality, it would have created a disjointed experience which have been awful to use and to support.

      Contrary to what you may think, we don't make these decisions on a whim."
      The one and only, Cylon Centurion
      • The Start menu is not coming back...

        I agree with Cylon--the Start menu is not coming back. Long live the "Metro Start Screen."
        • No sir, not for me!

          I don't intent to drive my car using a joystick. I'll stick to the ol'wheel and pedals. That's why, when Win7 will be at least as old as my currently used XP is, I'll probably switch to Linux. Metro sucks! I've been using computers since 1986, but this has just about fed me up! No Win8 stupidly- coloured-rectangles-idiotic-interface for me. Not now, not ever! Adios! Hasta la vista! Sayonara (that's goodbye in French!).
          • Linux may succeed

            Once they finally agree on a UI. There's about half a dozen out there right now.
      • So the decision is "Microsoft's idean", not "my idea" from users

        Well, for anyone who like to see "start menu", there are a couple of 3rd-party add-on. One is called start8. Downgrading to wins7 is another option.
        • Correct, the decision was made by Microsoft.

          Not by users.
          Linux is an OS designed by users.
          If you want to tweak with the native parts of the OS UI, that's where you need to go.

          For the vast majority of the planet, they'll learn many new effective ways to navigate the OS.
          milo ducillo
          • Wanna bet?

            I'll bet you a million dollars for a brass farthing that "the vast majority of the planet" will discard Win8 altogether. It happened before. It was called Win98Millenium and Windows Vista. Watch it happening again! Closely.
      • we don't make these decisions on a whim

        Funniest quote in a long time.
        • Why is that funny?

          Don't get it.
          You're insinuating that MSFT had a single 15-minute design meeting in which they canned the Start menu?
          milo ducillo
          • Start Menu Orb/All Programs

            This absolute "NO" to the option of having the Start Orb/Menu and boot directly to Windows Desktop is absurd! I know I am speaking for millions of PC users who could care less about "touch screens". We rely on our keyboads and mice.

            Microsoft NEEDS to give us that legacy option on the Metro Desktop and in the Control Panel. WE need to be able to navigate Windows the "REAL WAY" not some stupid concept that "WE'LL make our long time Windows 95 to Windows 7 customers "ADAPT".

            That concept is "SO WRONG" on many different levels!

            We want the OPTION. We should have the OPTION. We NEED the OPTION.

            On behalf of all keyboard/mousers around the world with laptops and desktops
        • Actually...

          ...Metro is something based off some of the most user-friendly transit system signage. There was lots of research that went into it though. They didn't just wake up one day and say, "I think I'm going to do a Metro UI that is totally different from any other UI."
          • Case of the Camel

            First, I haven't tried Metro. I'll get a Win8 upgrade after release because it's time to update that Vista VM. I do a bit of command line stuff, so I was disappointed at the inconvenience when we lost the "Run" item from the Start menu, but, whatever, I now type cmd in search.

            What amuses me is the emphasis on deliberation and care among the Protectors of the Redmond Faith today. Yes. It was deliberated. It was debated in committee. There were white papers. There were charrettes and testing. The out political factions were given enough time to comment, and maybe a concession or two, so that consensus was simulated. Managers were empowered.

            Regarding the fifteen minute meeting, this is how the fifteen minute meeting run by a Steve Jobs or Bill Gates goes: a few million riders understand the underground's signage? You morons, a few billion understand the Start button. It's broken? Fix it. And there's ten minutes more in the day.

            Then again, in some situations, a camel is better than a horse. Metro is what it is; two months, 24 days to release.
          • What are you talking about?

            "I was disappointed at the inconvenience when we lost the "Run" item from the Start menu"
            In Win8 you right-click at the bottom-left corner and there's your run item.
            milo ducillo
          • That caught...

            my attention as well. There is a simple little property to have the Run command on the Start Menu in Win7. Right click task bar --> Properties --> "Start Menu" Tab --> Customize... (button) then Scroll down to the option that says "Run Command and select it (check mark)"... Piece of cake!

            As for Win8, I dislike the interface. As for the Start Menu quote I simply heard "We were too lazy to keep it in sync and too cheap to find proper developers to fix this issue". That Start Menu deal made me decide I will not be upgrading my 5 systems. It is new and catchy for most I suppose, for me it is annoying any clumsy to navigate. Maybe next release.

            I must admit I have not been this disappointed by a Windows release since Windows ME!
          • Master Joe Says...Change

            Here's the funny part. People complain that Microsoft is outdated in its technologies (especially IE, but also with Windows). They've used the same UI (more or less) for a decade and a half. Now, they finally change the interface to something more "modern," and everyone goes on a rant because it's different? That's what cracks me up about most of the tech forums out there. For Microsoft, it's a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation. If you don't update your software to be more "now," you're criticized for being out of date. If you do, you're criticized for changing the interface. I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of those same people had a criticism, if the day came that Microsoft cured cancer or achieved world peace.

            The real fallout of a Windows 8 UI change:

            1. Millions of users downloaded and installed the various beta versions and provided feedback.
            2. Microsoft made changes, based on that feedback.
            3. ZDNet articles were published, as well as articles on other sites, giving users other "options" for skipping Windows 8.
            4. Windows 8 hits RTM.
            5. Many users upgrade, now or later, from a previous version of Windows.
            6. Some users decide to move to Linux because they don't like the new Metro UI, and somehow find Ubuntu's Unity UI or another desktop interface better.
            7. 9 out of 10 of those users realize that they actually do prefer Windows, and they switch back to Windows 7 or 8, accepting that Windows 8 is the future of the Microsoft desktop and tablet market, as well as likely the XBox and smartphone market, and there's not much that can be done about it.

            Which OS you use is a preference and sometimes done out of necessity because of an app that you need being unavailable on another OS. I've used Linux, OS X, and Windows in various capacities. My personal choice is Windows, and the majority of people using computers have made the same choice. If you make another choice, fine. It's yours to make. It's just not necessary to stand on your soap box and broadcast it to everyone, while trying to bash whichever OS they use (mostly Windows). 1% of the world's computer users isn't exactly a strong population.

            --Master Joe
          • No!

            What people are complaining about with Microsoft, and rightly so, is their complete failure to bring any new features or functionality to Windows. All they have done is churn the UI for the last x versions, really since win 95. Yes, under the covers NT is different from 9x, but for users it's the same. What do I mean by a new feature? Here's one freeby: STOP LETTING APPLICATIONS PROVIDE INSTALLERS AND UNINSTALLERS!. It is unimaginably lame that MS has still failed to break out of the old 9x paradigm of application installation. This one change would solve huge numbers of problems. You don't believe me? You are blind. I have more, and MS doesn't even pay me to come up with this stuff. *sigh*
          • I agree

            Every new installation is an adventure because you never know what the installer will ask for or what it will do, they all are different
          • Research my foot...

            Just give me a database and SPSS and in less than two hours I'll make good proof that the Sun revolves around Earth. So this with the resarch... go sell it to somebody else... Sales on computer books and invoicing on technical assistance were at an all over low, so they had to do something to revive it... What they came up with was called Metro... P of C.
        • No start on Windows 8

          The problem is that they broke it and couldn't fix it so they got rid of it... simple solution for them!