Microsoft's Windows 8.1 update has hit its release to manufacturing (RTM) milestone, meaning the software is effectively finalised and available to device makers, although users will still not get their hands on it until 18 October.
The announcement was made public in a posting on Microsoft's Windows blog by Antoine Leblond, senior vice president for the software giant's Windows Web Services team.
In the blog, Leblond explained that while the RTM milestone traditionally meant the software was ready and available for download, the firm has had to change its approach this time and work closer with its hardware partners to deliver the update. Consequently, only they will get Windows 8.1 ahead of the 18 October general availability date.
"Reaching this milestone is about optimising 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 two-in-ones, as well as industry devices designed for business," he wrote.
Leblond said Microsoft will continue to work closely with its vendor partners as it puts the finishing touches on Windows 8.1 to ensure "a quality experience" by the time of general availability on 18 October, which is the date Microsoft had earlier disclosed that Windows 8.1 will be broadly available.
On that date, the code will be available to commercial customers with or without volume licensing agreements, the broader partner ecosystem, subscribers to the Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) and TechNet, as well as consumers.
The release of Windows 8.1 (and the ARM-based Windows RT 8.1 version) is being portrayed by many as make or break time for Microsoft, following the lukewarm reception that has greeted Windows 8 so far.
Microsoft's last set of financial results showed that the firm was taking a hit from Windows and its own Surface tablet devices.
Meanwhile, chief executive Steve Ballmer announced at the end of last week that he was preparing to step down from his leadership role in the firm after more than 13 years. Ballmer will remain in his post until a successor is appointed.
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