These groups can get Windows 8.1 immediately.
They want early versions so they could test the software and make sure their Windows apps would not blow it up. Windows 8.1 is scheduled for release on October 18.
Windows 8.1 will be a free update for Windows 8. It fixes a lot of problems people had with Windows 8. For example, you can now boot your PC directly into the old-fashioned desktop mode instead of the new tiled interface that’s designed mostly for touchscreen computers and tablets.
Microsoft has always released new versions of Windows to these folks a few weeks early through its Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) and TechNet (enterprise) subscription services.
But, with Windows 8.1, Microsoft wasn’t going to do that, the company said two weeks ago. These groups were going to get it on the same day it was released to the public. In various blog posts Microsoft explained that the reason: Windows 8.1 isn’t completely cooked yet. It didn’t want its software developers to use it for their tests.
This angered some developers and enterprises.
The situation comes from Microsoft’s make-over. It has promised new versions of its software annually, instead of every three to seven years, and it hasn’t fully figured out how to work that fast.
The change of heart is good news. Subscribers can get Windows 8.1 from MSDN and TechNet as of Monday (as well as early access to the new server version, Windows Server 2012 R2 RTM) .
That means Microsoft isn’t going to make a dumb, preventable mistake that could have lead to a lot of buggy Windows 8.1 apps.