SOFTWARE REDEVELOPER Microsoft has reacted to the hue and cry from outraged Windows 8 developers and relented on its earlier decision to withhold the release to manufacturing (RTM) build of its Windows 8.1 service pack from Technet and MSDN subscribers.
On 27 August, Microsoft had announced that its RTM build of Windows 8.1 was completed, but that it would not make that available to developers on Technet and MSDN until the general availability (GA) launch on 18 October. Its excuse for withholding the code was that it was still making a few changes in cooperation with hardware OEM partners, so the operating system release wasn't final.
Windows developers, however, had long been accustomed to testing applications software with the RTM builds of new Windows releases, so they were immediately up in arms at the prospect that they wouldn't have any opportunity to test against Windows 8.1 until its eventual launch in October.
Developers were furious, and the comments they posted were scathing and outraged. Think of the villagers who advanced on Dr Frankenstein's castle with flaming torches in hand to appreciate the general tone.
As it has had to do several other times with regard to policy decisions recently, Microsoft blinked and backed down.
In a MSDN blog post last weekend, Microsoft chief evangelist Steven Guggenheimer backed down from the Redmond company's earlier position, and said, "Starting today, we will extend availability of our current Windows 8.1, Windows 8.1 Pro and Windows Server 2012 R2 RTM builds to the developer and IT professional communities via MSDN and Technet subscriptions.
"We heard from you that our decision to not initially release Windows 8.1 or Windows Server 2012 R2 RTM bits was a big challenge for our developer partners as they’re readying new Windows 8.1 apps and for IT professionals who are preparing for Windows 8.1 deployments.
"We’ve listened, we value your partnership, and we are adjusting based on your feedback."
Microsoft also said it is making available the Windows Server 2012 R2 RTM build, along with the release candidate version of Visual Studio 2013 developer tools to Technet and MSDN subscribers.
However, it also warned that it is still testing and making a few changes to the code of these software products, so developers should use them for testing only.
Guggenheimer added, "The primary purpose of Windows 8.1 RTM and Visual Studio 2013 RC availability is for testing as our engineering teams continue to refine and update the product and tools in preparation for Windows 8.1 general availability on October 18."
The episode is another instance where Microsoft executive management appears to have been out of touch with the business or simply not paying attention, and perhaps distracted by infighting, such that the company betrayed its developers' and customers' trust and eventually was forced to reverse itself. µ