Microsoft is effectively done with the development of Windows 8, and the operating system has reached RTM (Released to Manufacturing) status.
In other words, the OS is being shipped to the manufacturers who will install it on their various devices due out in October. Windows 8 is on target for its launch date of October 26th.
Windows 8 will run on both x86 machines and ARM mobile devices, with a specific version, Windows RT, designed for use on ARM-powered tablets.
In the meantime, if you want to try out the OS before the autumn, you can grab the Release Preview version and give it a whirl. Plenty of folks have, it would seem, according to Microsoft’s Steven Sinofsky, who posted on the Building Windows 8 blog.
He noted: “The previews of Windows 8 (Developer, Consumer, Release) have been the most widely and deeply used test releases of any product we have ever done. Over 16 million PCs actively participated in these programs, including approximately 7 million on the Release Preview that started 8 weeks ago. The depth and breadth of testing validate the readiness of Windows 8 for the market.”
But has Microsoft done enough to ensure that Windows 8 will be well received by the critics and computing public at large?
There are still worries that the move towards the Metro-style interface might be great for those on touchscreen PCs or tablets, but not so hot for traditional mouse and keyboarders, who may have been neglected (though you can switch the OS back to a “traditional” mode).
Game publishers are also concerned about the waves Windows 8 will make, and the Windows Store (with Microsoft’s 30 per cent cut on products) is making Valve feel particularly uneasy. Valve’s talking about making the games on its Steam digital distribution platform compatible with Linux as a “hedging strategy”.
Indeed, some seem to believe Windows 8 may cause a considerable surge in popularity for Linux, with those who are against the direction Microsoft is moving in abandoning ship. It’s far too early to call that, though.
Microsoft will have to tread carefully, though. It’s even rubbing PC vendors up the wrong way, as well, with the launch of its Surface tablet (with keyboard, hybrid style) alongside Windows 8.
If all this bad feeling from various corners of the tech industry accumulates and backfires on Redmond next year, the resulting explosion could be pretty spectacular.