The Windows community has gone bonkers over the news that Microsoft has RTM’d Windows 8.1. This was confirmed by Microsoft on Tuesday. This means that the final version has been sent to PC manufacturers and will begin being processed, installed and eventually shipped for the October 2013.
For the average consumer, this really doesn’t mean much. They’ll still be able to upgrade to Windows 8.1 when it goes live on its release date. However, for developers, this can mean the difference between having a Windows 8.1 app ready for release and struggling if issues pop up during the upgrade. As far as bone-headed moves by Microsoft, this ranks high on their list of recent failures.
Windows 8.1 Goes RTM: What This Means for Developers
For developers, this means that they will have no access to tweak, update and configure apps before the final release. This is frustrating and will lead to issues as the apps struggle to conform to the Windows 8.1 update without advance development.
While the Windows 8.1 Pro Preview and the latest leaked build 9471 are indicators of what Windows 8.1 may include, it’s by no means the final release candidate.
Normally, when Microsoft gets ready for a major release that goes RTM, it’s also released on the Microsoft Software Distribution Network (MSDN). Developers sign up for an account and have access to the latest builds, patches, Service Packs and final releases before consumers do. This allows them to work on apps so that they can be release-ready when a major update occurs. While this may not cause as many issues as the Internet would have you believe, it can be frustrating for developers to rush to apply fixes on release day.
In the past, Microsoft has often waited a few weeks before releasing an RTM build to MSDN, TechNet and volume license consumers. In Microsoft’s defense, what was sent to manufacturers is most likely not that much different than what app developers could be using for projects.
Microsoft did warn developers to take advantage of what was offered in the Visual Studio 2013 preview, along with the Windows 8.1 consumer preview to help build apps and it seems there was a reason for that all along.
With Steve Ballmer stepping down and a new visionary stepping in to guide Microsoft, the company has the opportunity to do what it’s never done in the past: Truly reach out to developers and consumers to get the feedback needed to make Windows 8.1 and future OS projects the best they possible can be.
Decisions like not releasing the RTM of Windows 8.1 to developers is another instance of the company ignoring its customer and support base. Here’s hoping that Microsoft can see the bigger picture and realize how much more exciting and energetic Windows 8 can be a true developer and consumer input being taken into consideration.