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MSDN and TechNet users can now officially download Windows 8.1 RTM bits. It’s fair to say that, as far as new Windows releases go, Windows 8 wasn’t the most well-received. With plenty of criticism from users bemused as to the extent of the changes, Microsoft has somewhat gone back to the drawing board, keeping some of the new implementations while also offering a little more familiarity to proceedings.

The dramatic return of the traditional Start button is perhaps the most talked-about feature of the lot, and although it’s something relatively small in the grand scheme of Microsoft’s operating system, many users felt as though the proverbial rug had been pulled from beneath them when the long-time feature was rather unceremoniously removed.

Surface Pro Windows 8

We heard not so long ago that Windows 8.1 had officially gotten RTM, but now, it’s actually been released to those tethered to the big two developer networks. Initially, the Redmond insisted TechNet and MSDN subscribers would not be seeing the release prior to the official October 18th launch – a decision that caused a major outcry.

Caving in to pressure, and not for the first time, Microsoft has back-tracked to keep the developers happy. To be fair, that initial plan to hold the RTM back until later would probably be to the detriment of the OS in general – a point repeated continually by upset developers.

Windows 8 touch

On top of releasing the RTM, Microsoft has also said that changes will still be made to Windows 8.1 at this stage, and although the time constraints mean there won’t be anything too severe happening, the late push to apply the finishing touches was attributable to the initial decision to skip the early release to MSDN and TechNet.

The official Windows 8.1 release date for general public is set for October 18th, boasting a bunch of new and exciting features. It will be a completely free upgrade for those already rocking a Windows 8-enabled machine or device, and is the second installment in a continued switch to the annual release cycle.

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We’ll keep you updated on any interesting changes as we find them, so stay tuned!

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