Windows 8.1 RTM's MSDN/TechNet release came after an intense internal struggle

Over the past few months, Microsoft has been flip-flopping on decisions like a political candidate. What started with the Xbox One and its policy reversals has bled over to the Windows 8.1 team with the decision release the RTM bits ahead of the previously announced general availability date in October.

Previously, Microsoft has released RTM builds the same day, or close to, when they were sent to OEMs. But with Windows 8.1, Microsoft decided to hold back the bits and as, you can imagine, this made developers quite upset.

Internally at Microsoft, the battle for when to release Windows 8.1 was apparently a highly sensitive subject. There were teams fighting to hold back the platform, mostly for political reasons from what we were told, and then there were groups pushing to get it out as soon as possible, comprised mostly of the developer channels at Microsoft.

What is interesting to note is that Microsoft has released the same build on MSDN/TechNet as what was shipped to OEMs. The reason this is noteworthy is that many assumed Microsoft was holding back Windows 8.1 to make a few last-minute adjustments before developers were able to get their hands on the goods. Seeing that it is the exact same build, clearly Windows 8.1 RTM is a polished product and the reasoning for holding back the build was political, at best.

Thankfully, Microsoft did come to its senses and release Windows 8.1 RTM ahead of its previously stated schedule. Neowin was told that release of the platform was directly related to the feedback from the Microsoft community and our source wanted to make it clearly known that Microsoft does listen and this is the result of the outreach by developers.

Microsoft is quickly changing and doing away with the practices of yesterday, which is a good thing, as the company is quickly transforming under a new org structure and in the near future, a new CEO too.

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Perhaps this was already mentioned, I received my first Windows Update on 8.1.

Security Update for Internet Explorer Flash Player for Windows 8.1 for x64-based Systems (KB2880289)

1.) Stop Technet

2.) Stop High Level MS Exams/Certs

3.) Stop normal RTM release schedule

4.) Stop Education of Tech so MS can make money off of their new SERVICES vision

5.) Make it so companies NEED to call Microsoft, now that they are a SERVICES company, to fix your problem

6.) ..........?

7.) PROFIT?

zeroomegazx said,

7.) PROFIT?

Nope, since MS will loose millions of customers to Linux/Unix distributions by limiting support that way.
Todays companies won't have the time to wait the time it would take to get incidences solved only by Microsoft.
Besides that, MS would loose a lot of credibility.

Mineria said,

Nope, since MS will loose millions of customers to Linux/Unix distributions by limiting support that way.
Todays companies won't have the time to wait the time it would take to get incidences solved only by Microsoft.
Besides that, MS would loose a lot of credibility.

but that IS Microsofts new focus, they arent a software company anymore (they say) they are a devices (phone/tablet) and services company (cloud services/servers).

of course i am being sarcastic, they will never succeed and there is no reason for them to change this drastically. the idea that we are in a post PC era is stupid. I and others love their tablets and smarter phones but they cannot replace PCs at home or in the workplace to get real work done.

MS should not switch to a quicker OS/software release cycle nor claim they are changing company types. all of these changes reek of politics and being scared of *apple* and the iPad. Its really stupid.

I highly doubt the changes to the final code is going to be that drastic. It was stupid of MS to require/tell the devs to use a 2 month old preview release of 8.1 to test their apps on. Any changes made to the final code that MS says devs will still need to update after release, cannot be as major as testing 8.1 preview with the RTM.

And yes, MS listens but it shouldnt take a bunch of complaints on something they should have done in the first place.

For what reasons did it make any sense to hold it back for developers? This is why you shouldn't have people in charge that don't work with software.

This is a symptom of something apparently everyone on the net apart from Neowin seem to realise. Microsoft have became so obsessed with competing with Apple, Google, and Sony on every front that they have lost a lot of their edge and direction, over the last year and a half they have tried to crap on pretty much all of their biggest supporters and these internal power struggles just show that they have no clear direction.

Oh, it's been more like two years or more of clueless crap coming out of the Windows Division. "Hey, developers! You know all that .Net code that has made you so productive over the past decade? Well, f--k it! Use HTML and JavaScript instead! It may be a mangy dog walking on its hind legs, but the barrier to entry is low!"

I'm suspecting internal struggle ever since the publics rejection of Windows 8. They'll get it together since Balmer is leaving.

Or maybe the backend is not ready, some modern UI app seem to have problems with 8.1 RTM, I guess they are still tweeking those apps and servers.

TruckWEB said,
Or maybe the backend is not ready, some modern UI app seem to have problems with 8.1 RTM, I guess they are still tweeking those apps and servers.

This *

It has been stated several times by Microsoft and talked about by developers workings on the App dates and the backend servers.

So we have a release that has server side issues (PROVED), and a release with incomplete/missing Apps (PROVED). Even the 8.1 Skype had to drop an early build just because of the MSDN/TechNet release.


I am sure this was a major debate inside Microsoft, as there were people that didn't want an 'incomplete' experience getting out in the hands of users and people that wanted to get the bits out as soon as possible.

(With the bits out, Microsoft is risking all 8.1 credibility if users have issues, and it gets spread throughout the media.)

TruckWEB said,
Or maybe the backend is not ready, some modern UI app seem to have problems with 8.1 RTM, I guess they are still tweeking those apps and servers.

This was probably the reason behind it, apps and backend services are not ready and those have a final deadline before GA I'm sure but as far as 3rd party developers go, they don't care. They want to test their apps on the OS and unless there's still some big deep OS changes in the works, or fixes for APIs etc that could change their apps yet again then there's no reason for them not to get it on MSDN and TechNet.

That said, MS should just tell them that things could still change by GA though any changes will be minor ones and so on.

Mobius Enigma said,

This *

It has been stated several times by Microsoft and talked about by developers workings on the App dates and the backend servers.

So we have a release that has server side issues (PROVED), and a release with incomplete/missing Apps (PROVED). Even the 8.1 Skype had to drop an early build just because of the MSDN/TechNet release.


I am sure this was a major debate inside Microsoft, as there were people that didn't want an 'incomplete' experience getting out in the hands of users and people that wanted to get the bits out as soon as possible.

(With the bits out, Microsoft is risking all 8.1 credibility if users have issues, and it gets spread throughout the media.)

You know there is a remarkably simple solution to problems like this:

Don't call it RTM code if it's not actually ready, or still riddled with bugs.

Javik said,

You know there is a remarkably simple solution to problems like this:

Don't call it RTM code if it's not actually ready, or still riddled with bugs.


Just as a side note, RTM is Released To Manufacturing, which it was. RTW is Released To Web, which it was not.

I highly doubt it's 'riddled with bugs' just cause a few apps aren't ready.


What is interesting to note is that Microsoft has released the same build on MSDN/TechNet as what was shipped to OEMs. The reason this is noteworthy is that many assumed Microsoft was holding back Windows 8.1 to make a few last-minute adjustments before developers were able to get their hands on the goods. Seeing that it is the exact same build, clearly Windows 8.1 RTM is a polished product and the reasoning for holding back the build was political, at best.

this doesnt make sense. 8.1 doesnt come out until october 18th. just because the build released is the same as the one sent to manufacturers doesnt change anything about whether changes are still being made till release.

vcfan said,
this doesnt make sense. 8.1 doesnt come out until october 18th. just because the build released is the same as the one sent to manufacturers doesnt change anything about whether changes are still being made till release.

Nobody disputes that changes are still being made, as bugs will inevitably be found between now and release. The reason Microsoft has been heavily criticised is because the delay won't achieve anything, other than depriving developers of valuable time to improve their apps. Feature-wise Windows 8.1 RTM is complete.

Yet still you have taken to every topic on the matter in order to defend Microsoft, refusing to accept that Windows 8.1 is complete despite it reaching RTM status. Microsoft doesn't casually give OEMs final code only then to surprise them with major changes just before release. The delay was entirely political.

im only going by what microsoft said,you're just guessing. microsoft even says developers will still have to update their code once the final 8.1 update rolls out in october,despite having the rtm,because there are going to be changes. this is not considered minor bug fixes.

what does it matter to oems if major changes are made? if you bought an windows 8 computer, then doing an update to 8.1 once released is going to make a major change. its not as if whatever software is on an oem machine can never be changed.

theyarecomingforyou said,

Nobody disputes that changes are still being made, as bugs will inevitably be found between now and release. The reason Microsoft has been heavily criticised is because the delay won't achieve anything, other than depriving developers of valuable time to improve their apps. Feature-wise Windows 8.1 RTM is complete.

Yet still you have taken to every topic on the matter in order to defend Microsoft, refusing to accept that Windows 8.1 is complete despite it reaching RTM status. Microsoft doesn't casually give OEMs final code only then to surprise them with major changes just before release. The delay was entirely political.

Sometimes even the OEM finds the occasional bug that needs fixing.

vcfan said,
im only going by what microsoft said,you're just guessing. microsoft even says developers will still have to update their code once the final 8.1 update rolls out in october,despite having the rtm,because there are going to be changes. this is not considered minor bug fixes.

what does it matter to oems if major changes are made? if you bought an windows 8 computer, then doing an update to 8.1 once released is going to make a major change. its not as if whatever software is on an oem machine can never be changed.

It'll just be some patches in Windows Update, same as people who purchased computers pre-loaded with 8.1 RTM will have to do as soon as they unbox it.

Of course its political, and most should be wary. There is a faction that seems intent on giving the people that have supported and evangelized their solutions over the years the finger.

well, during win 8.0 pre-RTM it was the IT PROs on TechNet that booing the windows 8 directions,
they quite vocal & technical in their complains, prompting MSFT to 'moderate' (read: delete) their comments.
unhappy with the treatment, they bring their voices to the rest of world who would listen to them,
and as the result: slow uptake of win 8.0 adoptions.

And now, as TechNet are merged with MSDN, theres political concern that Windows 8.1 would meet the same reception as windows 8.0, and that mean similar fates.

One way to mitigate that is to delay the IT PROs grab the new win 8.1 RTM,
as MSFT can't really said that "RTM is beta" that shouldn't be focused upon.

timster said,
... so, this had nothing to do with the all the 8.1 RTM ISOs being leaked out?

It certainly does since they released only the discs (all of which had already been leaked) rather than the proper update package, the one that doesn't require a new reinstall/upgrade install. Having to wait hours for a windows reinstall/upgrade on a development machine where hundreds of gigabytes of files are used by visual studio, sql server, IIS, etc. = super fun times!

Edited by francescob, Sep 12 2013, 3:41pm :

francescob said,

It certainly does since they released only the discs (all of which had already been leaked) rather than the proper update package, the one that doesn't require a new reinstall/upgrade install. Having to wait hours for a windows reinstall/upgrade on a development machine where hundreds of gigabytes of files are used by visual studio, sql server, IIS, etc. = super fun times!

you missed the subtle sarcasm

timster said,

you missed the subtle sarcasm

It could have been for other reasons too since developers didn't want to end up with broken apps during launch day. It's the fact they only released what was already being leaked that makes it far more likely they did that only to save face.

francescob said,

It could have been for other reasons too since developers didn't want to end up with broken apps during launch day. It's the fact they only released what was already being leaked that makes it far more likely they did that only to save face.

Devs and IT pros don't need update packages, they need ISO. Releasing the update package would make it GA since the general public would be able to update their machines. IT pros and devs just need the build and have no problem with updating from disc/clean install.

Graimer said,

Devs and IT pros don't need update packages, they need ISO. Releasing the update package would make it GA since the general public would be able to update their machines. IT pros and devs just need the build and have no problem with updating from disc/clean install.

I don't see how the iso makes it any harder to upgrade, you just have to mount it and select upgrade, Windows 8 even comes with built-in ISO mounting. The only issue is that it takes hours, just like it takes hours to reinstall the whole windows and especially visual studio and other development software: that whole day wasted to do an upgrade or a reinstall with the disc certainly doesn't come free.

francescob said,

I don't see how the iso makes it any harder to upgrade, you just have to mount it and select upgrade, Windows 8 even comes with built-in ISO mounting. The only issue is that it takes hours, just like it takes hours to reinstall the whole windows and especially visual studio and other development software: that whole day wasted to do an upgrade or a reinstall with the disc certainly doesn't come free.

The difference is that releasing the update package(which is released through the STORE btw) makes it easy enough for Average Joe to update, and it's too early for that. Average Joe won't know/bother with downloading a ISO and pressing update, just the "techies", which is what MS want until apps and drivers are updated.

No proper upgrade has been released anyways. Even on Technet. Mind you if you want to upgrade you need to use a Windows 8.1 issued key to do so. The installer won't take an older Windows 8 key from what I can tell.

Graimer said,

The difference is that releasing the update package(which is released through the STORE btw) makes it easy enough for Average Joe to update, and it's too early for that. Average Joe won't know/bother with downloading a ISO and pressing update, just the "techies", which is what MS want until apps and drivers are updated.

I still don't t think it'd make it that easy to upgrade because you'd still need to have the enabling package to have the update show, also Microsoft could limit the store update only to MSDN accounts just like for the ISO downloads if it will be really distributed exclusively as a store update (it's very likely it'll be just a repackage update file though).

Also I'm pretty sure that Average Joes won't give a damn, they'll still upgrade from the ISOs ending up with borked Windows 8.1 installs (since the upgrade process messes with drivers and applications far more than a simple update) and then end up flooding forums with "MICRO$OFT $UCK$!!!" everywhere. Not releasing the update package until launch could have the complete opposite effect.

shinji257 said,
No proper upgrade has been released anyways. Even on Technet. Mind you if you want to upgrade you need to use a Windows 8.1 issued key to do so. The installer won't take an older Windows 8 key from what I can tell.

You can give it the default 8.1 key and then after it's finished installing enter your good 8.0 key in. Kinda stupid and unpolished installer.

What's odd is that it AUTOMATICALLY used the default 8.1 key when I clean installed it on a new 8.0 computer and refused to activate. Maybe it did that because the 8.0 key stored in my BIOS was unacceptable. But after I got to the desktop I entered my 8.0 key that I had extracted before formatting the drive and it activated fine.

warwagon said,
Ya they were going full retard there for a moment. Then they came to their senses.

Microsoft employs far too many people. All the people blocking the release of RTM for no-reason should be fired

I understand that the backend might not be ready, but people who have an MSDN account are NOT the average user, they pay Microsoft a **** ton of money per year. Let them use it if they want.

MSDN Subscriptions amounts are as followed

699.00 : MSDN Operating Systems
1,199.00 : Visual Studio Professional with MSDN
2,169.00 : Visual Studio Test Professional with MSDN
6,119.00 : Visual Studio Premium with MSDN
13,299.00 : Visual Studio Ultimate with MSDN

Edited by warwagon, Sep 12 2013, 3:06pm :

But MSDN is not their cash-cow... it's simply a collective extension (marketing program) of their other cows. The fact that it's able to be self-sustaining from a budgetary standpoint simply allows it to continue operating without impeding the Corporate's finances.

warwagon said,
Ya they were going full retard there for a moment. Then they came to their senses.

Since when do you care what happens with W8?

its not that microsoft dont know how to do a 180... maybe next time they do a good decision instead of keep making mistake one after another...

If they want devs to release decent apps on day 1 for 8.1 then those devs that pay all that cash need access before the general public.

eilegz said,
its not that microsoft dont know how to do a 180... maybe next time they do a good decision instead of keep making mistake one after another...

Well, based on your comments, you sound fairly intelligent. Why don't you go run the company? I hear they will consider external sources for their new CEO.

Imagine my surprise, being an Ultimate level subscriber for more than 10 years to hear I didn't have privileged access. That is exactly what the $13000 buys me!!! I'm running it now and it wasn't a day to soon, as some of out apps and developer tools need to be recompiled and tweaked to run smoothly on it. So the sooner we have it, the better. Microsoft wanting to ape apple more and more is starting to get long in the tooth.