Microsoft announced today that Windows 8 has been released to manufacturing (RTM), marking a big milestone in the production of Microsoft's new operating system. Previous releases have been a part of the development cycle, with unfinished features and various bugs, but the manufacturer's release signals a finalized version of the code that will eventually make its way into the hands of consumers.
This final version of Windows 8 has been released to companies such as Lenovo, Acer, ASUS and Toshiba, all of whom have announced new Windows 8 PCs and devices. Developers will be able to download the final version of Windows 8 via MSDN subscriptions on August 15th, but RTM will allow developers to immediately publish and offer paid applications in the new Windows Store commerce platforms.
The release to manufacturers shows that Microsoft is on-schedule for its October 26th public release. The consumer upgrade to Windows 8 will cost $39.99, but users who purchase an eligible Windows 7 PC between now and the release can upgrade to Windows 8 for only $14.99. As with previous OS releases, Windows 8 will also be available to users purchasing a new computer after the October 26th release.
Windows 8 marks a drastic change from previous Windows operating systems, re-imagining the iconic Windows desktop with interactive tiles. Users will also be required to create a Windows Live ID in order to access their Windows 8 devices, which serves to personalize the Windows experience for each user, regardless of computer or device. For more details about the upcoming changes, check out our Windows 8 Release Preview Hands-On.