Microsoft has made the final version of Windows 8 available to developers and IT pros.
Developers and IT pros can download Windows 8 from the Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) and TechNet. The Release to Manufacturing (RTM) version of the new operating system is available via these channels for MSDN and TechNet subscribers, but general consumers will not be able to access the OS until Oct. 26 when Microsoft makes the software generally available.
At that time, consumers will be able to get their hands on the very same bits that developers gained access to as of Aug. 15. Microsoft initially released Windows 8 to manufacturing on Aug. 1, but the bits did not become available to the public until now.
Meanwhile, Microsoft said its Microsoft Software Assurance customers will be able to download the Windows 8 RTM bits on Aug. 16, and Volume License customers without Software Assurance will gain access to the OS Sept. 1, the company said.
In addition, Microsoft launched the final version of its Windows Store Aug. 15. The software giant also released its primary Windows 8 developer tools â Visual Studio 2012 and .NET 4.5 â to developers Aug. 15. This move is to enable developers to begin building Windows 8 apps early so they can begin to populate the Windows Store with apps that will be available when Windows 8 ships at the end of October.
Microsoft also is making available a 90-day trial version of Windows 8 for developers. Of the evaluation edition, Microsoft said:
"This is intended for developers building Windows 8 apps and IT professionals interested in trying Windows 8 Enterprise on behalf of their organization. If you qualify under one of the following programs listed below, you may already have access to the final bits and do not need to download this 90-day evaluation."
To download the Windows 8 bits and related tools, developers can go here.
Jason Zander, Microsoft's vice president of Visual Studio, said MSDN Subscribers can download Visual Studio 2012 immediately at the MSDN Subscriber Download Page, and volume licensing customers will be able to download starting Aug. 16 from the Volume Licensing Service Center.
Developers also will be able to find Visual Studio in stores in the next month or so, as well as some availability to purchase through the Visual Studio product Website in the next few days, Zander said. Moreover, to evaluate the free trial versions or download Microsoft's free Express products, developers can go to the Visual Studio product Website.
"With Visual Studio 2012, we're delivering a productive and powerful development experience, one that makes it easy to develop on your own or as part of a collaborative team, all the while building apps that target the latest platforms," said S. "Soma" Somasegar, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Developer Division, in a blog post. "The interesting question for every developer out there is-what app will you build today? We look forward to discussing it more with you during the Visual Studio 2012 Launch Event on Sept. 12."