WINDOWS DEVELOPERS are angry at Microsoft because it won't give them access to the final build of Windows 8.1 until its general availability release to the public in mid-October.
The firm announced on Tuesday, 27 August that it had released the nearly final version of its Windows 8.1 service pack for Windows 8 to PC and tablet hardware makers, but said that it won't be released to the Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) until the public release of Windows 8.1 on 17 October.
Microsoft's excuse for holding back the Windows 8.1 release to manufacturing (RTM) code from software developers and IT professionals apparently is that it isn't complete yet. "While our partners are preparing these exciting new devices, we will continue to work closely with them as we put the finishing touches on Windows 8.1," Microsoft spokesman Antoine Leblond said in a blog post. "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."
However it's not clear what has changed except Microsoft's willingness to share its operating system application programming interfaces (APIs) and system behaviours with third-party application vendors and corporate software developers. The obvious implication is that Windows 8.1 isn't really finished yet, and that perception could hurt Microsoft at launch, and come back to haunt the firm later.
Developers lost no time in criticising Microsoft's decision to withhold access to Windows 8.1. The second comment on Leblond's blog post by Segobi read, "Congratulations for releasing it to Technet and MSDN so late. You are losing your partners."
Many developers complained that this release schedule is not going to help them prepare their applications, companies and users for Windows 8.1.
A comment at the Windows appbuilder blog by Brianjsw said, "In an world inhabited by pink unicorns and pixie dust, the advice in this post would be sufficient. However we live in the real world last time I looked out the window. In the real world, developers must have access to the RTM bits before GA. The fact that Microsoft no longer seems to understand this truly frightens me."
One developer who called himself kiLLe wrote in response to Leblond's post, "To be honest, this sucks. You are backstabbing those that you rely on to make your platform usable. Yes, BACKSTABBING. I might just go over to *shudder* Apple, or Google. They at least know how to treat their 'developers, developers, developers! developers, developers, developers, developers, developers'!"
Prior to its launch of Windows 8 on 26 October last year, Microsoft declared its Windows 8 RTM release on 1 August and published the operating system on Technet and MSDN two weeks later on 15 August. OEM hardware makers got a head start then, but not by much, and software developers outside Microsoft soon had the release in hand.
This can be seen as another instance of Microsoft shooting itself in the foot, because delaying the release of Windows 8.1 to developers means that there will be very few if any new or updated software applications optimised for Windows 8.1 when it is finally released in mid-October. It also means that corporate software developers won't see Windows 8.1 until the public release, either, which will delay adoption of Windows 8.1 by businesses of all sizes, especially big enterprises.
Microsoft reversed its earlier decision to withhold the Windows 8.1 RTM build from Technet and MSDN subscribers yesterday, 9 September. However it said that it's still making changes before the final release, so the build is for testing purposes only. µ