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Windows 8.1 RTM and Windows Server 2012 R2 RTM Released to MSDN, TechNet

Microsoft allowed its MSDN and TechNet subscribers to download the release-to-manufacturing (RTM) versions of Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2 on Monday.

Windows Intune subscribers also can get the latest service update as of Monday. UPDATE, 9/11: 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 on Monday, according to a Microsoft spokesperson. Microsoft also issued the release candidate version of Visual Studio 2013, which can be accessed here.

Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2 reached their RTM milestones late last month. In the past, Microsoft typically gave early access to a product's RTM version -- the "gold" build that's used by device manufacturers -- to MSDN and TechNet subscribers. However, for Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2, Microsoft initially said it would not give early access to the RTMs because of the products' faster software release cadences.

Microsoft reversed course in response to complaints from developers and IT pros who said they needed the time to get ready for the general availability releases, which are all scheduled for Oct. 18.

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.

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.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is online news editor for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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