The good news is that Microsoft made its end-of-August deadline for releasing Windows 8.1 to manufacturers. The bad news is that developers of all stripes are getting the short end of the stick. Microsoft's sending the "final" Windows 8.1 bits to hardware manufacturers, but it won't send the same bits to eager developers. Microsoft spokesperson Antoine Leblond put it this way on Blogging Windows:
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 significant 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.
The sting comes here:
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.
Which, of course, implies that developers aren't partners. Or something like that.
Predictably, comments from the developer community are running very hot on Blogging Windows: "I'm disappointed that it won't be available on TechNet until October - it may not be perfectly stable yet, but the RTM build is surely more stable and complete than the preview build (9431) or the recently leaked 9471 build." Also: "Congratulations for releasing it to Technet and MSDN so late. You are losing your partners." And: "I'm curious...what is the reason the RTM version will not be avaiable through MSDN/TechNet anytime soon? Microsoft is really loving their IT Pro's.....ending TechNet....not earlier access to Windows 8.1 :("
With RTM builds of Windows 8.1 currently floating around China, and a small handful of RTM screenshots (in Chinese) circulating widely, it seems likely that Build 9600.16384.130821-1623 will appear soon on a torrent near you.
This story, "Windows 8.1 RTMs -- but developers won't get it until October," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.