The internet was up in arms when Microsoft announced that the Windows 8.1 RTM (release to manufacturing) build was not going to be released to developers — or anyone — until the official launch on October 18th.
Today, Microsoft reversed course and announced that the final release of Windows 8.1 is imminently available on MSDN, Technet and for volume license holders. That means if you have access to an MSDN or Technet subscription you can head over to there right now and download the final release.
It’s not entirely clear why the company suddenly changed their stance, they say that they have “heard [your] feedback” and are responding to complaints that developers would not be able to ship final code in time for launch.
The company says this release is only for testing purposes and the reason it wasn’t originally available for developers is due to the fact that they are still putting the “finishing touches” on the operating system despite it being final code.
Unfortunately, if you are a developer you won’t be able to submit your application until launch on October 18th, which is when the store officially opens for Windows 8.1. That said, it’ll be reassuring for anyone who was planning on building a Windows 8.1 app or has an existing Windows 8 app they need to get ready.
That said, we’ve been running it since it was released this morning and it seems much better to us compared to the preview build. If you’ve got an MSDN or Technet subscription, head over right now to get your hands on the bits! Just be aware that there are a handful of gotchas despite this being “final” code.
We’ll be publishing our findings and thoughts on Windows 8.1 soon.
What exactly does RTM mean?
RTM stands for “release to manufacturing” which is also known as “going gold” means the company has finished developing the product and it is ready for distribution to partners and developers. This period of time is when Microsoft generally distributes code to computer manufacturers for deployment on new machines. When it reaches general availability (GA) it is available for sale to consumers.
When can I get Windows 8.1?
The final release of Windows 8.1 will be available on October 18th via the Windows Store or as an ISO download for free (if you have a Windows 8 key).
Can I get the Windows Store update now as opposed to having to do a fresh install?
No. The only release being made available to developers and external partners is the full ISO download. You can do an upgrade using the full ISO by extracting it and running the setup executable.
What versions of Windows 8.1 can I get right now?
If you have a Technet or MSDN subscription you have access to Windows 8.1, Windows 8.1 Pro in x86 and x64 flavors. Windows 8.1 Enterprise and 8.1 RT will not be available until October 18th.
Can I upgrade from Windows 8.1 preview?
Not officially. You can run the setup file on the ISO and select the “keep personal files” option which will keep your documents but you will lose all applications and settings.
I’ve downloaded 8.1 RTM from somewhere else. Will I need a key?
Yes. This version of the release requires a key to be installed.