As tweeted yesterday, Microsoft’s Tami Reller revealed in the WPC 2013 keynote that Windows 8.1 will RTM in late August. All along I’ve theorized that the schedule would be similar to Windows 8, which was similar to Windows 7. That would mean that GA would be in October. In fact, Reller said that Windows 8.1 would be available to customers in “a few months” for the Christmas market, once again missing the lucrative back-to-school market when Apple makes a fortune.
Mary Jo Foley has reported that Windows 8.1 may in fact be available to existing Windows 8 customers soon after RTM. That is the norm for volume license customers – but that’s because they often have agreements that allow instant access and deployment, e.g. Software Assurance. This time around, Windows 8.1 isn’t a new purchase – it’s a built-in upgrade right for everyone with Windows 8. So it makes sense that Microsoft would consider this.
OEMs might be pissed off with a move like this … but hey … they deserve to be pissed on because they really dropped the ball with device availability for Windows 8. It’s 10 months later and devices are only on the shelves in the last month in these parts. The instant availability of Windows 8.1 could be good for marketing of the OS – a lot of people will upgrade to get their Start Button (there is no Start Menu) and they’ll show customers, friends, family, etc, and that might be a very clever social (version 1) marketing technique.
No news on Windows Server and System Center 2012 R2 availability. I would guess it’ll happen around the same time as Windows 8.1, in line with the “Blue” concept. October (same as WS2012) would be the latest GA I think, maybe to give Windows 8.1 marketing a chance to have airtime, and then give WSSC 2012 R2 a chance to have it’s own marketing bandwidth. But that’s all guessing. We know that WSSC was developed together and will be released at or around the same time … the first time this will happen.