Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Windows 8, Windows RT, and Windows Server 2012 all release to manufcturing

It's gold. That doesn't mean it will be a gold mine for Microsoft when it hits retail, but Microsoft has announced that Windows 8 has reached RTM (release-to-manufacturing) status.

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Just as it sounds, that means Microsoft will now release Windows 8 to ... manufacturing, where DVDs will be created. In other words, the software is done and just needs to be distributed. Microsoft previously announced that Windows 8 will hit retail on Oct. 26.

In addition, Windows RT (the ARM-specific version of Windows 8 for tablets with ARM CPUs) has reached RTM, as has Windows Server 2012. When Windows 8 begins shipping on Oct. 26, Microsoft will also begin shipping hardware, too: Windows RT-based Surface tablets.

Oct. 26 is a long way off, but between now and then, the following milestones will be met:
  • August 15th: Developers will be able to download the final version of Windows 8 via your MSDN subscriptions.
  • August 15th: IT professionals testing Windows 8 in organizations will be able to access the final version of Windows 8 through your TechNet subscriptions.
  • August 16th: Customers with existing Microsoft Software Assurance for Windows will be able to download Windows 8 Enterprise edition through the Volume License Service Center (VLSC), allowing you to test, pilot and begin adopting Windows 8 Enterprise within your organization.
  • August 16th: Microsoft Partner Network members will have access to Windows 8.
  • August 20th: Microsoft Action Pack Providers (MAPS) receive access to Windows 8.
  • September 1st: Volume License customers without Software Assurance will be able to purchase Windows 8 through Microsoft Volume License Resellers.
Microsoft is going all-in, and betting the farm on Windows 8. Not only does Windows Phone 8 share core code, the Metro-style UI on the desktop mirrors Microsoft's smartphone platform.

Of course, that UI-change has drawn criticism, too. It remains to be seen if consumers will embrace it.

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In addition - and this is big for developers - Microsoft has confirmed that Windows 8 Metro app developers can now start submitting paid apps for the first time to the Windows Store.

Microsoft is aggressively pricing upgrades, too, at $39.99, or $14.99 for those who are eligible for Microsoft's Windows 8 Upgrade Offer. Mark Oct. 26 on your calendar.

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