Microsoft's Windows 8 has finally hit that all important Release to Manufacture milestone. Microsoft announced today that it had finally started releasing Windows 8 to PC OEM and manufacturing partners, which means the next major milestone for Windows 8 will be the October 26 release.
The announcement is right on schedule, as Microsoft in July announced the OS would hit RTM in the first week of August. The news was confirmed during Microsoft annual Worldwide Partner Conference in Toronto, Canada. Speaking to thousands of partners from around the world, Windows Chief Marketing Officer and Chief Financial Officer Tami Reller confirmed that Windows 8 was on track to hit Release to Manufacturing (RTM) the first week of August.
Today Steven Sinofsky said the previews of Windows 8 have been the most widely and deeply used test release of any product Microsoft has ever done. With over 16 million PCs over all participating, Sinofsky said a whopping 7 million of those are on the Release Preview that was released eight weeks ago.
Despite reaching RTM, Microsoft said today that it would continue to monitor and act on user experiences.
"While we have reached our RTM milestone, no software project is ever really 'done,' Sinofsky wrote. "We will continue to monitor and act on your real world experiences with Windows 8—we’ve used the preview process to test out our servicing and we have every intent of doing a great job on this next important phase of the product."
Additionally, Microsoft has said select audiences, including developers, IT professionals and partners will have early access to final RTM code beginning later this month. Here's the timeline for those that will have early access:
- August 15th: Developers building new apps for Windows 8 will be able to download the final version of Windows 8 via MSDN subscriptions, and can visit the Windows Dev Center to get access to the final build of Visual Studio 2012.
- August 15th: IT professionals testing Windows 8 in organizations will be able to access the final version of Windows 8 through a TechNet subscription.
- 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.
This week it emerged that October 26 would not only bring the release of Windows 8 but also the release of Microsoft's Windows 8 Surface tablets, which were announced back in June and put Microsoft in direct competition with its hardware partners.