Microsoft has been criticised for making its developer and IT professional community wait for the release of Windows 8.1 after the vendor handed over the OS update to manufacturers this week.
In a blog post, the software giant revealed its manufacturer partners now have access to the updated OS – which comes just 10 months after Windows 8 was released to a muted industry reception.
In the past, release to manufacturing (RTM) meant the software was available for broader customer use, but businesses and developers will have to wait until the OS is put on commercial release on 18 October.
"It's clear that times have changed, with shifts to greater mobility and touch as well as the blurring of work and personal lives," Microsoft said on its blog. "As such, we've had to evolve the way we develop and the time in which we deliver to meet customers with the experience they need, want and expect. We've had to work closer to our hardware partners than ever before."
The news met a frosty reception from those hoping to get their hands on the update early in order to carry out testing and development.
"Congratulations for releasing it to TechNet and MSDN [Microsoft Developers' Network] so late. You are losing your partners," said one partner in a comment below the blog, while others said they were disappointed and angry with the move.
Another commenter questioned: "[When] are we supposed to test our software for Windows 8.1 – the day it will be automatically installed on users' machines? So we – software developers – can take blame that applications don't work on Windows 8.1?"
TechNet is a service used by both IT professionals and developers to test and evaluate software before it is available to customers, but also comes as a benefit to the channel as part of the Microsoft Partner Network. Resellers can also sell TechNet to end users for their own development needs, but the service is set to be axed in a few days – a move which went down badly with partners.
On the blog, Microsoft described the RTM of Windows 8.1 as an "important milestone" and said the OS update was significant due to both "customer feedback and an unparalleled level of collaboration across product teams".
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