Readying Windows 8.1 for release (UPDATED)

We’ve hit an important milestone for Windows and for Microsoft—just 10 months after delivering on a bold, generational change in computing with Windows 8, our team is proud to share that we have started releasing Windows 8.1 and Windows RT 8.1 to our hardware partners. In many ways, this marks a new day at Microsoft, reflecting a number of rapid release firsts. Thanks, in part, to customer feedback and an unparalleled level of collaboration across product teams, Windows 8.1 is a important update. We have delivered in a very short time an update to the OS that will bring an even greater unified experience for our customers. As we consider the code we just handed off, and the new intuitive and fluid computing experience it provides – anytime, anywhere, across all devices – we’re confident we made the right bet in continuing our vision and following through on our commitment to rapid innovation and responsive engineering.

In the past, the release to manufacturing (RTM) milestone traditionally meant that the software was ready for broader customer use. However, it’s clear that times have changed, with shifts to greater mobility and touch as well as the blurring of work and personal lives. As such, we’ve had to evolve the way we develop and the time in which we deliver to meet customers with the experience they need, want and expect. We’ve had to work closer to our hardware partners than ever before. Reaching this milestone is about optimizing 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 2-in-1s, as well as industry devices designed for business.

While our partners are preparing these exciting new devices we will continue to work closely with them as we put the finishing touches on Windows 8.1 to ensure a quality experience at general availability on October 18th. This is the date when Windows 8.1 will be broadly available for commercial customers with or without volume licensing agreements, our broad partner ecosystem, subscribers to MSDN and TechNet, as well as consumers.

On behalf of the Windows engineering team, we want to thank you for joining us on this journey. So many people rely on Windows in so many ways, and so we thank you for your participation in previewing the product, for your feedback, for your contributions and for your support. You have helped us make Windows 8.1 great for everyone!

We are super excited to see Windows 8.1 help deliver the next generation of devices and a one-of-a-kind experience that’s in sync with the way you live – at home, at work, and on the go.

UPDATE 9/9 10:00am PST:

Based on the feedback from you and our partners, we’re pleased to announce that we will be making available our current Windows 8.1 and Windows 8.1 Pro RTM builds (as well as Windows Server 2012 R2 RTM builds) to the developer and IT professional communities via MSDN and TechNet subscriptions. The current Windows 8.1 Enterprise RTM build will be available through MSDN and TechNet for businesses later this month. For developers, we are also making available the Visual Studio 2013 Release Candidate, which you can download here. For more on building and testing apps for Windows 8.1, head on over to today’s blog post from Steve Guggenheimer.