On the first day of August, Microsoft announced that its final, final version of Windows 8 is ready. (The announcement came just as the this newsletter was about to be sent out.)
Drawing on the announcement and a little bit of history, here’s what’s likely to happen as Windows 8 makes its way to store shelves.
Final code: Windows 8’s RTM and what follows
As just announced in a Microsoft Windows blog, Windows 8 has reached released tomanufacturing (RTM). Many of you have written to me — asking what, precisely, that milestone means. Let me try to answer that by blending some previous Windows-launch history with what we expect will happen this time around.
RTM is a specific version — a specific build — of the product. It isn’t a date. Once upon a time, RTM was the version Microsoft declared as finished (or gold), signifying that it could be shipped to the CD manufacturers (thus “to manufacturing”) who would duplicate the discs, stick them into shrink-wrapped boxes, and ship them to retailers.
Windows 8 RTM is different from previous releases of Windows. In particular, there’s no “manufacturing” in the sense of shrink-wrapped boxes. The blog makes it clear that Microsoft will dribble out the Win8 RTM code to developers (via MSDN and TechNet), PC manufacturers, and corporate customers though August. General release is still set for Oct. 26.
Soon after the RTM version is set, hardware manufacturers (OEMs) will run final tests and start manufacturing new Windows 8 PCs. Historically, soon after OEMs receive the finished code, leaked copies start showing up in public. (Microsoft’s largest customers also get gold code about the same time as OEMs, providing another source for leaked code.)
Starting Aug. 15, anyone with a MSDN or TechNet subscription will be able to download the Windows 8 RTM code. (I talked about TechNet in a July 1, 2010, column.) I bet that, within a day or two of Win8’s appearance on the MS tech sites, more than a million copies will be out in the wild.