Microsoft Officially Signs Off On Windows 8, Releases It To Manufacturers

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Right on schedule, Microsoft has just announced on its Windows Team blog that Windows 8 has emerged from its long development and testing phase, and will soon be in the hands of manufacturers and OEMs for installation on new PCs and devices.

Among those on the list to receive the final build (build 9200, if you were curious) are Lenovo, Acer, ASUS and Toshiba, though that’s clearly just the tip of a very large iceberg.

While average users won’t be able to get their collective hands on the new OS before its official launch on October 26, Microsoft revealed when certain subsets of users could access the final build. Developers can download Windows 8 via their MSDN subscriptions on August 15, as can IT professionals with their TechNet subscriptions — lucky devils.

In a separate blog post, Microsoft’s Stephen Sinofsky dives into greater detail about the RTM process and the steps that led up to it. One of the juicier tidbits Sinofsky addressed was just how many people participated in the Windows 8 preview program — over 16 million PCs took part in the preview, with a full 7 million of those PCs running on the company’s Release Preview build. Solid numbers for what the company has referred to as a substantial “reimagining” of Windows as we know it, and the company hopes that same sort of momentum carries over into retail sales.

With Windows 8 finally complete, Microsoft has begun to bring other parts of its ecosystem online. Take the Windows Store for instance — developers will soon able to submit paid apps into the new marketplace, though they’ll have to have their RTM builds installed and ready first. That said, Sinofsky was quick to note that “no software project is ever really ‘done,’” so the company will continue to monitor feedback from both users and its myriad hardware partners.