Windows 8 is done, available August 15th with final Visual Studio 2012

Microsoft’s Windows chief Steven Sinofsky has announced the release to manufacturing of Windows 8:

The Windows 8 team is proud to share with you that a short while ago we started releasing Windows 8 to PC OEM and manufacturing partners.


The separate post by Brandon LeBlanc has more details. Microsoft’s developer (MSDN) and IT admin (Technet) subscribers will be first to get the new Windows, leaks aside, on August 15th. LeBlanc adds:

On August 15th, developers will be able to visit the Windows Dev Center to get access to all the tools and resources they need including the final build of Visual Studio 2012 to design, build, and sell apps in the Windows Store.

from which we learn that Visual Studio 2012 is also done, or will be by the 15th.

Windows Server 2012, which uses the same core code, has also been released to manufacturing, says Microsoft’s Jeffrey Snover:

the final code is complete and we are delivering it to our hardware and software vendor partners this week

The Windows Store is also open for business, kind-of. Antoine Leblond says that you can submit a Metro-style app from today, though you will need an RTM build to do so, so for most of us that will actually mean from August 15th. Apps can include free, paid-for, trials, and those with in-app purchases. Only Metro-style apps can be submitted for installation through the store, though desktop apps can be offered through a link to the vendor’s web site.

Windows 8 is a bold release. Despite pressure from existing Windows users, Microsoft has held firmly to its decision to abandon the old-style Start menu and to make the Metro side prominent for all users. There are several big unknowns:

  • How will users react to the changes? The early moments with Windows 8 tend to be difficult, and some may be put off completely.
  • How popular will Metro-style apps be, relative to traditional desktop apps?
  • How well will Windows 8 and Office 2013 really work on a tablet without keyboard or mouse?
  • What proportion of users will want the ARM version, Windows RT, as opposed to the familiar, messy world of x86 Windows?

I have used Windows 8 intensively for some months now, both on desktop and tablet. It works fine, and seems a little faster than Windows 7 on the same hardware. On a tablet, the Metro-style apps are delightful but few, but desktop apps are a bit of a struggle, which is one reason I am looking forward to Windows RT devices on which those troublesome desktop apps cannot be installed.

Should Microsoft have made such radical changes in Windows? That is open to debate; but check out this report on how tablets, mainly Apple iPads, are eating away at the PC market to understand why the company felt that “reinventing Windows” was its only option.