UPDATE: Windows 8.1 RTM Available for MSDN and TechNet Subscribers
Microsoft today offered its MSDN and TechNet subscribers access to the release-to-manufacturing (RTM) ISO builds of its latest flagship operating systems.
Subscribers can download the RTM versions of Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2. Windows Intune subscribers also can get the latest service update today. Update: the Windows Intune updates aren't immediately available but are being rolled out over a two-week period, starting on Sept. 25 in North America, according to a Microsoft blog post on Sept. 10. System Center 2012 R2 is also available as evaluation software, but it did not reach RTM status today, according to a Microsoft spokesperson.
There are a few exceptions on the OS RTM releases. For instance, the RTM version of Windows 8.1 Enterprise edition will be available later this month, according to Microsoft's announcement. Another exception is the Windows RT 8.1 RTM. "We're not providing Windows 8.1 RT RTM bits for MSDN or TechNet" subscribers, a Microsoft spokesperson clarified via e-mail.
Microsoft also issued the release candidate version of Visual Studio 2013, which can be accessed here.
Microsoft is aiming to deliver all of those products on October 18, which is their "general availability" date.
The RTM version is the "gold" build that's used by device manufacturers. In past software releases, Microsoft typically had given early access to these bits to its developer MSDN subscribers and IT pro TechNet subscribers, but the company wasn't going to do that this time because of its new faster software release cadence. However, Microsoft has now relented and released the bits anyway. It did so after hearing from developers and IT pros that they needed the time to get ready for the general availability releases, according to the announcement. Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2 reached their RTM milestones earlier late last month.
While the RTM versions of the operating systems are feature complete, some of the software will be updated at general availability release. For instance, Microsoft indicated it would have further updates to Windows Server 2012 R2 at that time. The price list for Microsoft's new software will be available on Nov. 1 for those organizations making new software purchases.
Microsoft considers the RTM software to be preview software, so there is no upgrade path to the final general availability version, according to the Microsoft spokesperson. Installing the Windows 8.1 RTM on a test machine is the preferred approach. For instance, even the Windows 8.1 preview came with multiple install caveats to observe.
Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.