Microsoft has released Windows 8.1 to its hardware partners according to VP Antoine Leblond; but developers will be unable to test whether or not their apps work on the updated operating system until it is also in the hands of users:
While our partners are preparing these exciting new devices we will continue to work closely with them as we put the finishing touches on Windows 8.1 to ensure a quality experience at general availability on October 18th. This is the date when Windows 8.1 will be broadly available for commercial customers with or without volume licensing agreements, our broad partner ecosystem, subscribers to MSDN and TechNet, as well as consumers.
One reason for subscribing to MSDN is to get early access to new versions of Windows for test and development, so this is a surprising and disappointing move.
We pay thousands for MSDN access so we can test our software/apps properly, early testing, before GA, is an important part of that process! We don’t care about a couple of bugs in your OS, we about bug in our software. Most of us actually want to support Windows 8.1, a lot of us want to get apps ready for the awesome 8.1 features, but we can’t properly do that unless we get the RTM bits before the public gets the Windows 8.1 update!
says one comment to Leblond’s post.
It is hard to make sense of Microsoft’s reasoning here, though Microsoft’s Brandon LeBlanc comments that despite the RTM (Release to Manufacturing), Windows 8.1 is not altogether finished:
We are continuing to put the finishing touches on Windows 8.1 to ensure a quality experience at general availability
Windows 8 needs more high quality apps in order to win users over to its new tablet-friendly user interface, so it is unfortunate that Microsoft is not doing more to help developers support it.