MS performed an abrupt about face today, and posted the bits for the Windows 8.1 RTM to both TechNet and MSDN this morning. Here’s what I see as the top 3 Windows 8.1 downloads in the MSDN Subscriber Downloads pages:
The IE-free “N” version of Windows 8.1 shows up at the head of the list, but you’ll find both x86 and x64 versions in full-featured form on MSDN as well. Note that today (9/9) is the official release date!
Apparently, Microsoft attended to the hue and cry from developers (both of the hardware and software variety) and early evaluators who questioned Microsoft’s change of policy for Windows 8.1. The Verge’s Tom Warren quotes Microsoft Chief Evangelist Steve Guggenheimer as saying “We heard from you that our decision to not initially release Windows 8.1 or Windows Server 2012 R2 RTM bits was a big challenge for our developer partners. We’ve listened and we get it.” And now, not only goes Microsoft get what developers wanted all along, they’ve gone ahead and made the software available in both regular and Pro formats (look for the appropriate downloads labeled “multiple editions”) to subscribers.
Better late than never, or shrewd acquiescence from Microsoft? Who knows? I’m just glad to see they’ve allowed common sense to trump policy. It’s nice to see them act reasonably in the face of both reasonable and unreasonable requests for advance access to the software. Given its availability through Torrents and other pirate channels anyway, it’s simply a helpful move to deliver the software through safe and official channels.