Right on schedule, Microsoft has announced that Windows 8 has been released to manufacturing on the first day of the first week of August.

Microsoft has put out a full press release, which we have attached below, but of course the meats of the announcement are dates and prices. Unfortunately Microsoft has yet to announce any prices for OEM/System Builder or Retail copies of Windows 8 beyond the previously announced $40 upgrade promotion, so we’re still left wondering what pricing on the full version will be. We would be surprised if it was much different than Windows 7, but we shall see.

In the meantime what Microsoft lacks in pricing information they more than make up for in dates, having released a complete list of Windows 8 availability dates for all of their major customer groups. The important dates are August 15th for MSDN/TechNet customers, and October 26th (as previously announced) for retail customers and systems pre-loaded with Windows 8. For those of you thinking of testing it as early as possible via TechNet, do keep in mind however that along with TechNet’s use restrictions, the service now also requires that you keep an active TechNet subscription to keep using any software provided through it.

Finally, the build number for Windows 8 is widely rumored to be (and we believe to be accurate) 9200.16384.win8_rtm.120725-1247.

Today, Microsoft announced that Windows 8 has been released to manufacturing (RTM) – marking the completion of product development and testing. OEM partners are now armed with final code, and can begin building new Windows 8 PCs and devices to introduce this fall, starting Friday, October 26, at General Availability. 

RTM marks an important milestone for Windows 8, and with that comes notable enhancements, new opportunities and continued capabilities without compromise:

  • Launch of Windows Store commerce platform. RTM delivers the opportunity for developers to publish and offer paid apps. The Windows Store for developers blog details how developers can take advantage of the single biggest platform opportunity available.  
  • Business (not) as usual. Windows 8 can change the way people do business. Features like new Windows 8 apps, new hardware experiences, Windows To Go, enhanced security, DirectAccess, and desktop virtualization advancements bring about new opportunities that give organizations value. The Windows for your Business blog provides details and new guidance for enterprise customers.
  • Partners are “all in.” We are excited to share the final code with companies like Lenovo, Acer, ASUSand Toshibawho have announced new Windows 8 PCs and devices as well as other partners who are working on products that will be available this fall. 

So what’s next, you ask?

  • August 15:
  • Developers will be able to download the final version of Windows 8 via MSDN subscriptions.
  • IT professionals testing Windows 8 in organizations will be able to access the final version of Windows 8 through TechNet subscriptions.
  • August 16:
  • Customers with existing Microsoft Software Assurance for Windows will be able to download Windows 8 Enterprise edition through the Volume License Service Center (VLSC), allowing the opportunity to test, pilot and begin adopting Windows 8 Enterprise within their organizations.
  • Microsoft Partner Network members will have access to Windows 8
  • August 20: Microsoft Action Pack Providers (MAPS) will receive access to Windows 8.
  • September 1: Volume License customers without Software Assurance will be able to purchase Windows 8 through Microsoft Volume License Resellers.
  • October 26: Windows 8 will be available to consumers either by upgrading or on a new PC. Eligible Windows 7 PCs purchased now qualify for an upgrade to Windows 8 Pro for $14.99 (U.S.) through the Windows Upgrade Offer.

More information about Windows 8 RTM can be found in the B8 blog, Windows for your Business blog and Windows Store for developers blog.

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  • Exodite - Friday, August 3, 2012 - link

    Personally I'm quite excited for the minor tweaks and performance advances of W8, though I'll reserve judgment until I see whether or not that result in actual performance gain in applications.

    That said I'll give W8 a miss because no amount of minor technical advances is worth a completely unusable UI.

    I'm not going to make a big deal about it, since a lot of people seem unable to handle differing opinions, but W7 is good enough for me.
  • Belard - Friday, August 3, 2012 - link

    Windows XP shows what happens when things stagnate. They should go back to real version numbers like the old days. Because XP-MCE lookd a bit different, had some extra features to be called XP .2 - something. Not just service pack versions which is a really stupid way of saying "Windows 7.1" Or that its rumored that the "Metro" name for Metro is being thrown out and replaced with "Windows 8 User Interface" - wow, that sounds... dorky. Why not call Windows (Which in of itself, also stupid) "Microsoft Graphics User Interface Operating System 8" and dump the "windows" name? MS-GUIOS8 has a nicer ring to it?

    Releasing a OS standard every 2~3 years is healthy, it improves technology and keeps developers on their toes. Not becoming lazy as they did with MS-DOS or XP. Remember when it used to Windows95 / 98? But rather than Windows99, they called it "98se" - lame. Give it a number, it comes out when its ready.

    Windows7 is quite good that it could be used for the next 7~8 years, like XP. But hopefully it will be dead in that time frame.

    What happens when Windows hits version 10? Do they get sued by Apple?
  • Metaluna - Friday, August 3, 2012 - link

    As long as they don't use roman numerals, which Apple invented, for the version number, Windows 10 should be fine :).
  • powerarmour - Friday, August 3, 2012 - link

    Great, that means I'll be able to install it on a Cedar Trail netbook/tablet...

    Oh wait... still no drivers :P
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  • wavetrex - Monday, August 6, 2012 - link

    - 1. Metro-ish start menu looks totally gay. What's with the rainbow colors? I feel like I just smoked a large amount of grass when looking at that...
    - 2. Once open, there's no simple way of closing "apps". Going to a corner to reopen the Start leaves them running. Please don't point me to the stupid "drag to close" method, it's a pain to use.
    - 3. x64 version using over 1.2 gig of Ram fresh out of the box? Wow ! What will happen after 1 year of installing applications, changes, leftovers? Needing 4 gig just to boot?
    - 4. Constant switching between desktop and Start is very annoying
    - 5. MONSTER full-screen stuff with huge text and mega-buttons. Did MS try this on a larger 27" monitor ? It looks simply horrible !
    - 6. Desktop mode looks much worst than Win7/Vista, like a step backward in looks.... also washed out colors, no contrast at all, no more nice shadows.
    - 7. Lots of stuff hidden between complicated menus and large amounts of clicking to get somewhere and do something.
    - 8. What's with the "Microsoft Account" thing in the latest version which you are forced to input at install time? Do I need to be online and have a MS e-mail to use my computer? WTF??

    Try showing this to the following two categories of people:
    - People who have used windows before, but never used a smartphone/tablet
    - People who never used any kind of computer system (these guys will probably get stuck before the login screen, unable to even put in their password)
    You'll notice they will get stuck at the most basic operations... it's just horrible !
    The geeks will find out how to do stuff, or search the net/forums... but the rest (99%) of people? The frustration will reach the stars...

    Just wait to see the returns to stores of new PC's with Win8, after they noticed they aren't able to do anything with their computers (stuck before the Login screen), thinking that it's broken...

    Getting the popcorn :)

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