OK, so now we not only know that the official release date for Windows 8.1 will be October 17/18, 2013 (4 AM on 10/18 in New Zealand, 10 AM 10/17 in Redmond), but now we also know that last Friday Microsoft sent off the bits for the release to manufacturing (RTM) as well. Numerous sources, including Mary Jo Foley and Paul Thurrott confirmed that it went out on 8/23, with release number 9600.16384.130821-1623. Foley went on to comment further as follows:
…my sources said that Microsoft’s game plan is to withhold the Windows 8.1 RTM bits until launch this year, which means almost no one outside (other than OEMs) would get officially released Windows 8.1 bits until October 18.
This is at odds with Microsoft’s prevailing practices for releases of Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8.0, but it buys the company some time to slipstream changes into the general availability release if they must, and it keeps things simpler and more straightforward for the company’s suport staff while the run-up to October 17/18 continues to wind down. Nevertheless, I do expect to see at least some purported “leaks” of the RTM version on BitTorrent in the relatively near future. Curious researchers and enthusiasts should be warned that such leaked versions have included malware for past Windows versions, and may very likely do so for Windows 8.1 versions as well. If you’re bound and determined to exercise your curiosity, be sure to take security precautions when messing about with unofficial version of any not-yet-officially-released Windows (and other) OSes. Happy hunting nevertheless!
Only images of the new OS have leaked so far; no ISOs have surfaced anywhere as yet.
One image of the release has surfaced on MS news, rumors, and info site Neowin.net, with the following warning, which apparently originated from the MyDigitalLife forums from a member with the handle ‘Cleric':
The source of the image also pointed out on the MDL forums, that those who currently have access to the RTM version are “being watched closely”; so for now we’ll all have to wait until general availability on Oct. 17th.