Microsoft today confirmed that its next version of Windows, known as Windows 8.1, is on track to be delivered to the world on October 18.
The company has sent the operating system to hardware partners so they can finish their new devices.
But it also made a ruffled a lot of feathers with today’s announcement.
Microsoft won’t let third-party Windows developers or its enterprise customers get their hands on the revised OS until it’s released to everyone, known in Microsoft-speak as “general availability” or “GA.”
Normally, the company sends the “released to manufacturing” version to these folks a few weeks early, through its Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) and TechNet (enterprise) subscription services.
By not letting these two groups get their hands on Windows 8.1 before its released to consumers, they can’t test their software and make sure it won’t crash, freeze, or otherwise blow up Windows.
In various blog posts today, Microsoft explained the reason: Windows 8.1 isn’t completely cooked yet, so it doesn’t want its software developers to use it for their tests.
Microsoft has vowed to release new versions of its software annually, instead of every three to seven years. But it clearly doesn’t have the project management systems in place to work that fast.
“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 …” Microsoft senior vice president Antoine Leblond said in a post.
Commenters to that post were not happy. One wrote:
“We pay thousands for MSDN access so we can test our software/apps properly, early testing, before GA, is an important part of that process! We don’t care about a couple of bugs in your OS, we [care] about bug[s] in our software.”
Developers have had access to an earlier, even less cooked version of Windows 8.1. It has a bunch of new features, so Microsoft’s decision to withhold early release to developers doesn’t seem wise.