In development since 2009, announced officially at CES in early 2011, went through three different previews (Developer, Consumer and Release) and recently announced to be code complete, the final, code-complete, release to manufacturing version of Windows 8 is finally available to TechNet and MSDN subscribers. Check out the details after the jump.
Windows 8 is a pretty big and important release for Microsoft for a couple of reasons. Firstly because it is, of course, a major update to Microsoft’s desktop operating system which is one of their top three, revenue-generating products; its success is directly tied to Microsoft’s overall success in the computing market. Secondly, it’s heavily focused towards touchscreens, offering a specific Windows RT edition of Windows 8 (without the traditional desktop interface) that works only on ARM tablets competing with the Apple iPad and tablets based on Android.
Besides the move towards touch-screen oriented user interfaces, Windows 8 includes a heavy number of all new features like a Windows Store for apps, Internet Explorer 10, an all new task manager, Easy Restore / Refresh for quickly reinstalling Windows on your PC, cloud integration, and Xbox Live integration etc..
If you’re a TechNet or MSDN subscriber, you can head on over to the links embedded at the end of this post to start downloading Windows 8 RTM and get your license key.
If, however, you’re part of the general public i.e. without TechNet / MSDN access, you will have to wait till October 26th when Windows 8 is released to retailers. When it does, you will be able to upgrade to Windows 8 Pro from XP, Vista or 7 for the price of a $39.99 download. If you prefer a packaged, DVD version, that will cost $69.99. You can check out the features that are offered by different versions here.