Windows 8 Released to TechNet, MSDN Subscribers

The "release to manufacturing" (RTM) version of Windows 8 is now available to Microsoft's TechNet and MSDN subscribers.

Windows 8 is scheduled to become generally available on Oct. 26, although it's being released to Microsoft's customers at various dates. The RTM version, which was released earlier this month, is the completed Windows 8 product that IT pros and developers need to evaluate. The Windows 8 RTM can be downloaded by subscribers to Microsoft's TechNet and MSDN professional services programs at those respective portal pages. Microsoft's volume licensing customers will be able to download the Windows 8 RTM on Aug. 16.

The Windows 8 downloads are for the x86 and x64 versions of Windows 8. The Windows RT version, also known as Windows 8 for ARM devices, isn't available for download, according to a Microsoft spokesperson.

"Windows RT is only available pre-loaded on devices; there isn't a software-only version," the Microsoft spokesperson explained via e-mail. "So x86 and x64 are the versions of Windows 8 available for download for MSDN and TechNet subscribers."

Windows 8 testers who don't subscribe to those Microsoft services can get their hands on an evaluation edition that's good for 90 days. The evaluation edition of Windows 8 is available at this page.

Many developers likely have been building their applications using the earlier Windows 8 release candidate (RC) version. Microsoft claims in a blog post that the code built on the RC version will require "small changes (if any) to run on the Windows 8 RTM." The blog post points to a "migration guide" to help developers update their apps to the RTM release of Windows 8.

Also available for download by TechNet and MSDN subscribers are Microsoft Visual Studio 2012 and .NET Framework 4.5. However, with this release of Visual Studio, Microsoft changed its policy of offering Visual Studio to MSDN subscribers first. Now, Visual Studio 2012 is available to all developers to download and try. For more details on Visual Studio 2012 and .NET Framework 4.5, see this Visual Studio Magazine story. Microsoft's Visual Studio 2012 release is a bit nuanced because some of the tooling, such as tools used to develop Windows Phone and Office apps, isn't yet included.

Those looking to download the RTM version of Windows Server 2012 will have to wait a bit. The RTM was released to Microsoft hardware manufacturing partners in August. However, what's available now for testing by the public is the release candidate version of Windows Server 2012, which is essentially Microsoft's last test version of the product.

"As for Windows Server 2012, RC remains the only download available on TechNet; it will likely be available to Volume licensing customers this week," the Microsoft spokesperson explained.

A free evaluation copy of the Windows Server 2012 RC is available for download at this page. Microsoft is planning a product launch event for Windows Server 2012 on September 4.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.