Microsoft has announced that Windows 8 has been Released to Manufacturing (RTM). With this, industry partners are readying products in time for the Windows 8 worldwide launch on 26 October, 2012.
Select audiences, including developers, IT professionals and partners will have early access to the final RTM code beginning later this month. Highlights include:
- August 15th: Developers building new apps for Windows 8 will be able to download the final version of Windows 8 via an MSDN subscription, 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 aTechNet 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 them 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.
- September 1st: Volume License customers without Software Assurance will be able to purchase Windows 8 through Microsoft Volume License Resellers.
Developers can visit the Windows Dev Center to get access to all the tools and resources they need to design, build, and sell apps in the Windows Store. While all apps during the preview phases were free, with RTM, developers can begin charging for apps, so those with access to RTM bits will begin to see paid apps appear in the Windows Store.
Windows 8 will be generally available to customers on 26 October.
Microsoft had already announced a Windows 8 upgrade offer for consumers who purchase a new laptop or desktop PC with a brand new copy of original Windows 7. If you buy a PC with original versions of Windows 7 Home Basic, Home Premium, Professional or Ultimate which includes a matching and valid OEM Certificate of Authenticity (COA), then Indian consumers are entitled to a downloadable upgrade to Windows 8 Pro for a price of just Rs. 699. The Windows Upgrade Offer is valid from June 2, 2012 to January 31, 2013 and is redeemable before the programme expiration at the end of February 2013.
Microsoft has also revealed a limited-time offer that allows not only Windows 7 users, but also those stuck on Windows XP and Windows Vista to upgrade to Windows 8 Pro for just US $39.99 (roughly Rs. 2,200).
For those wanting to try a pre-release version of Windows 8 before general availability, the Windows 8 Release Preview is available to download here.