Rumor: Will final Windows 8.1 be publicly released right after the RTM?

Earlier this week, Microsoft confirmed that the final version of Windows 8.1 will be ready in late August. However, the announcement specifically said that the RTM launch of Microsoft's next OS would be for PC OEMs, so they can prepare and install Windows 8.1 on their products that would launch later this fall.

So does this mean Microsoft is going to sit on the RTM build and not release it to the general public until this fall, as they have done with previous versions of Windows? Maybe not. ZDNet.com reports that, according to their unnamed sources, the RTM build will be released to the public right when it reaches that stage, or maybe shortly afterwards.

If true, this represents a break from tradition in terms of releasing new versions of Windows. Typically, after they reach the RTM stage, the general public has to wait at least a couple of months before they can access it. Perhaps the fact that Windows 8.1 is being provided for free for users of Windows 8, rather than a paid download, could let Microsoft feel more comfortable in offering an RTM build right away.

Again, PC OEMs won't have their products running with Windows 8.1 out of the box until sometime later this fall, and it's likely we will see quite a few new product launches from those hardware companies as well that tie into Windows 8.1.

Source: ZDNet

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38 Comments

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If I was to get hold of an iso when it is released, will I be able to use the same windows 8 product key I currently have to install a fresh copy or will this current product key only work with an upgrade through the store.?

After the difficulties they have had with Windows 8, the last thing they/we need is another, different, fiasco with Windows 8.1 being released with any major issues - I don't think the Windows 8.x brand can take many more hits.

Let's hope they get it right.

...and the update was always going to be free to existing windows 8 customers. I say that because charging for the update would of fragmented the ecosystem, and MSFT wouldn't do that...

Considering the company's new "rapid release cadence" I'd say of course it's going to be released at or shortly after RTM. It makes perfect sense. I mean, they know consumers are excited about it, so why not get it to them as quick as possible.

Makes sense, especially if you have a Surface--after all, this is their own device, so it's not like there's an OEM that has to review/retest their preloaded crapware.

The RTM is the final shipping code for Windows itself. But there is still the whole environment that has to support that. The reason there is a delay is to allow OEMs and software developers a chance to iron out any issues that may have crept in.

That said it's a little different depending on how substantial the changes are but Microsoft would be foolish to rush it out to consumers only to find that Major Application X needs a patch that wasn't ready in time.

One way they could handle this is to let users opt in to downloading it at RTM much like they did the preview, and only push it to users later on.

Generally speaking RTM and General Availability are never the same day as they serve entirely different purposes. But hey who knows... there's a first for everything. <shrug>

This is certainly the way it should work. It is beyond stupid to have the final build ready to go just waiting for 2 months. Not everybody buys PCs with each Windows release, so it's only beneficial to make the final build available the momento it RTMs so existing users who were not planning to buy anything anyway can actually upgrade.

If Microsoft goes ahead with this plan, it will certainly showcase their so called renewed attitude towards software as a service.

Finally have a screenshot that shows the shifting charms menu for kb+mouse users. Nice to see how it's shifted lower so you don't have to move the mouse up high like in 8.0.

GP007 said,
Finally have a screenshot that shows the shifting charms menu for kb+mouse users. Nice to see how it's shifted lower so you don't have to move the mouse up high like in 8.0.

It does both. If you swoop from the top corner they're shifted up.

I have to say I find it annoying since I keep mousing to the middle of the bar.

Alas, this is the problem with change. Some people will be pleased, others not.

This is good if it happens, never really understood why they would always sit on RTM code for 2-3 months before letting the public have it.

Chris123NT said,
This is good if it happens, never really understood why they would always sit on RTM code for 2-3 months before letting the public have it.

So that OEMs have a chance to create device drivers and test the update. Having said that you can obtain it via MSDN & TechNet.

Pressing discs, packaging, shipping, etc., as well as OEMs as Riva said. These factors also contribute to the delays. While these delays are not applicable to digital distribution, they liked to do it with a bang, and release the whole lot at the same time, hence the delay.

Riva said,

So that OEMs have a chance to create device drivers and test the update. Having said that you can obtain it via MSDN & TechNet.

Yeah I know, I have a technet account. Maybe in this new age of digital distribution they won't delay things quite so much. Drivers are usually ready pretty quick these days, not like Vista where they took months.

xendrome said,
Difference here is 8.0 to 8.1 should not require any special drivers.

Why do you say that? New versions of software can support new hardware. OEMs need to ready their drivers.

mnl1121 said,

Why do you say that? New versions of software can support new hardware. OEMs need to ready their drivers.

And existing users won't have any of this new hardware so they won't need those drivers. The delay only makes sense if the drivers change for existing hardware.

Vista was a much bigger internal overhaul of the internal codebase than anything since - hence why there were so many issues with drivers.

Vista, 7 and 8 are all internally however very similar.

xendrome said,
Difference here is 8.0 to 8.1 should not require any special drivers.

Actually VirtualBox network drivers and 8.1 are incompatible. Causes you to lose network connection whenever your computer sleeps.

I haven't had any issues with sleeping and network connections in regards to VirtualBox. I have the opposite. The VB drivers are preventing my computer from going to sleep and I cannot uninstall them.