Microsoft is offering users the release to manufacturing (RTM) build of its Windows 8 operating system as a free download.
The company said that it would be allowing users who are members of the Microsoft Developer Network Platform (MSDN) and TechNet programmes to download the final build of the OS. Additionally, Microsoft is allowing users who are not part of its official developer programmes to download a free 90-day evaluation version of Windows 8 RTM.
Microsoft said that the release was largely intended to allow developers and administrators time to evaluate and test the operating system before its 26 October release date.
Availability of Windows 8 is among the final steps for Microsoft before the OS is released to the general public. The company earlier this month pushed out the final version of Windows 8 to developers in the hope of having new PCs shipping with the OS by the October release.
When it is released, Windows 8 will be among the most anticipated versions of Windows ever to hit the market. In addition to providing performance and interface updates for desktop and notebook PCs, Windows 8 will be the first version of Microsoft's operating system to be designed with touchscreen tablets in mind.
The release will also be the first version of Windows to support the ARM processor architecture. In addition to support for conventional x86 processors, the company will offer Windows RT. The ARM-specific version of the platform will target the growing tablet market in which the chips have become popular for their low power consumption.
Earlier this week, Microsoft announced that a number of hardware developers, including Dell, Lenovo and Samsung, were developing ARM tablets for use with Windows 8.
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