Today’s the day – Windows 8.1 RTM is now being shipped out to OEMs so they can have the latest incarnation of Windows 8 on their devices ahead of its October 18 launch date. Unfortunately, everybody else, including developers, will have to wait.
Writing for the Windows 8 blog, Antoine Leblond reminds us that it’s only been 10 months since the launch of Windows 8, and that Windows 8.1 represents a new strategy at Microsoft:
In the past, the release to manufacturing (RTM) milestone traditionally meant that the software was ready for broader customer use. However, it’s clear that times have changed, with shifts to greater mobility and touch as well as the blurring of work and personal lives. As such, we’ve had to evolve the way we develop and the time in which we deliver to meet customers with the experience they need, want and expect. We’ve had to work closer to our hardware partners than ever before. Reaching this milestone is about optimizing the overall experience for our customers. Our hardware partners are in a position to prepare the wide array of innovative devices our customers can expect later this fall – just in time for the holidays. Over the next several months we’ll see beautiful, powerful devices, from the smallest tablets to the most lightweight notebooks to versatile 2-in-1s, as well as industry devicesdesigned for business.
Leblond goes on to say that Microsoft isn’t quite ready to push Windows 8.1 out to everybody yet, even if the RTM version is now complete. It will instead work with its hardware partners to perfect the updated operating system ahead of its launch. That’s why MSDN and TechNet subscribers will have to wait alongside consumers to get their hands on Windows 8.1.
As you can imagine, developers and those within the Windows community are not too happy about this. Windows expert Paul Thurrot summed up exactly what Windows developers are feeling right now:
Microsoft stabs itself in face, will not give Windows 8.1 to developers until users have it in October. No valid excuse for this. Nada.
— Paul Thurrott (@thurrott) August 27, 2013
Tom Warren of The Verge defended the move, however, saying that Microsoft still has to iron out some bugs:
Microsoft is still working on Windows 8.1 bugs, that's why it's not going early to TechNet and MSDN customers. Simple as that.
— Tom Warren (@tomwarren) August 27, 2013
Finally, Peter Bright of Ars Technica points out the major flaw in Microsoft keeping Windows 8.1 out of the hands of developers:
What this means is simple: come launch day, the VAST MAJORITY of apps will be written for Windows 8.0 feature set, not 8.1.
— Peter Bright (@DrPizza) August 27, 2013
No matter how you feel about it, Microsoft is at least trying something different this time around. Its developers may not appreciate it now, but it may be worth it if Microsoft is able to deliver a relatively bug-free product to both developers and consumers.