Microsoft has changed its mind over the finalised Windows 8.1 code and made it available to MSDN and TechNet subscribers ahead of the official launch, meaning that developers and IT professionals will get valuable early access to the code after all.
Windows 8.1 hit its release to manufacturing (RTM) milestone at the end of August, at which point the finished code is typically made available to the developer and IT professional communities. However, this time Microsoft decided to deliver the code only to hardware partners readying new Windows devices for the 18 October general availability date.
But the software giant has announced a change of heart on its MSDN blog, saying just two weeks later that it had listened to feedback from developers building new Windows 8.1 apps and IT professionals preparing for Windows 8.1 deployments.
"We've listened, we value your partnership, and we are adjusting based on your feedback. As we refine our delivery schedules for a more rapid release cadence, we are working on the best way to support early releases to the various audiences within our ecosystem," said Microsoft's chief evangelist Steven Guggenheimer.
At the same time, Microsoft made available the Windows Server 2012 R2 RTM build and a release candidate (RC) version of its Visual Studio 2013 developer suite to MSDN and TechNet subscribers.
Microsoft warned that it is still continuing testing in the run-up to the general availability date, and so there could still be changes and tweaks in the products that are officially released in October.
"The primary purpose of Windows 8.1 RTM and Visual Studio 2013 RC availability is for testing as our engineering teams continue to refine and update the product and tools in preparation for Windows 8.1 general availability on 18 October and the release of Visual Studio 2013 RTW," Guggenheimer wrote.
In July, Microsoft caused more anger when it announced plans to phase out its TechNet service for IT professionals in favour of expanding its free evaluation programmes. Many small business subscribers in particular said the move would force them to invest in a more costly MSDN subscription for test deployments of software, or turn to non-Microsoft products instead.
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