Microsoft's decision to officially keep access to the RTM version of Windows 8.1 away from everyone but OEMs is not sitting well with a number of software developers who have been used to getting earlier RTM versions of Windows, ahead of time so they can work on their projects before the OS is generally released to the public.
Some of those developers have taken to Microsoft's Windows blog and posted up their feelings on the matter in the news comments. One statement, from "brianjsw", sums up the reaction of many of those software creators:
Seriously.... has Microsoft fallen off its rocker? Windows 8/8.1 is nothing without the support of developers. Microsoft cannot responsibly consider its product as fully tested and ready for release to the general public until your third party developers have had at least a month in advance to test their applications against it. This decision is yet another that leaves me questioning the judgement of Microsoft's current management.
Microsoft's Brandon LeBlanc posted up a few comments in that same thread that defended the company's position on the matter, stating, "We are continuing to put the finishing touches on Windows 8.1 to ensure a quality experience at general availability for (all) customers." He also posted up a link to another Windows blog post that is supposed to give developers resources to work on Windows 8.1 apps. However, those resources are of preview builds, including of Windows 8.1 itself as well as Visual Studio 2013.
Another developer, "BAV0", wrote that he understood Microsoft's reasoning behind this decision, in that the company wants Windows 8.1 to be perfect and that they don't want any bad publicity about the OS ahead of time. However, he added that was still not a good enough reason to keep the RTM build away from software creators. He wrote:
... we pay thousands for MSDN access so we can test our software/apps properly, early testing, before GA, is an important part of that process! We don't care about a couple of bugs in your OS, we about bug in our software. Most of us actually want to support Windows 8.1, a lot of us want to get apps ready for the awesome 8.1 features, but we can't properly do that unless we get the RTM bits before the public gets the Windows 8.1 update!
Of course, some developers could just decide to download and use the pirated RTM builds of Windows 8.1 that are roaming the Internet as we speak. Indeed, one of the most recent comments on Microsoft's blog even mentions Neowin's own coverage of Windows 8.1 leaked builds, telling Microsoft, "Bravo! You really thought this through didn't you?"
It would seem that Microsoft's changes surrounding the release of Windows 8.1 RTM are running contrary to what CEO Steve Ballmer himself said when he made his now famous speech supporting software developers:
Source: Microsoft | Image via Microsoft