Microsoft has announced that it has listened to the complaints of programmers and has placed the Windows 8.1 upgrade for download on MSDN and Technet.
As we reported, Microsoft released Windows 8.1 to equipment manufacturers recently but not, as is the usual custom and practice, to developers. This meant that there was no way of testing apps under the new version of the OS until consumers got the update on October 8th. Microsoft explained this away by stating:
In the past, the release to manufacturing (RTM) milestone traditionally meant that the software was ready for broader customer use. However, it’s clear that times have changed, with shifts to greater mobility and touch as well as the blurring of work and personal lives.
This, of course, made no sense and no explanation was given as to why the RTM of 8.1 was treated differently. Developers were justifiably angry and frustrated by the action and Microsoft has relented in the face of criticism:
"Based on the feedback from you and our partners, we’re pleased to announce that we will be making available our current Windows 8.1 and Windows 8.1 Pro RTM builds (as well as Windows Server 2012 R2 RTM builds) to the developer and IT professional communities via MSDN and TechNet subscriptions."
As well as technical issues in Windows 8.1 there are also design guideline changes which developers need to take into account to get their apps into the 8.1 app store. As Steve Guggenheimer points out:
" The RTM versions of tools, services, and platform are required for store submissions which will open up for new Windows 8.1 apps beginning at general availability on October 18."
Which again raises the question of how Microsoft could ever have hoped to have any 8.1 apps available on the 18th without releasing the RTM to developers well before the launch date.
It is really good that Microsoft have done an about face and released the software early to developers, but it doesn't really explain the incident. Are we to assume that in the future Microsoft is going to need to have the needs of developers explained to it in the same sort of way?