Microsoft Changes Mind, Gives Windows 8 And Windows Server 2012 RTM To Devs

After a few weeks of listening to the backlash, however, Microsoft has decided this isn't such a good idea.

Starting Monday, Microsoft "will extend availability of our current Windows 8.1, Windows 8.1 Pro and Windows Server 2012 R2 RTM builds to the developer and IT professional communities via MSDN and TechNet subscriptions," Steven Guggenheimer, vice president of Microsoft 's Developer and Platform Evangelism group, said in a blog post.

[Related: Microsoft Preps Surface 2 Tablets For Sept. 23 Unveiling In NYC ]

The Windows 8.1 RTM Enterprise edition will be available through MSDN and TechNet for businesses "later this month," Guggenheimer said in the blog post.

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Microsoft is also giving MSDN and TechNet subscribers access to the Release Candidate of Visual Studio 2013.

Microsoft sent the RTM bits for Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 R2 to OEMs last month in advance of its Oct. 18 retail launch.

Traditionally, Microsoft has extended the same early access to its MSDN and TechNet subscribers. This is important because it gives developers time to build and test their apps on new versions of Windows. For enterprises, it's a chance to make sure new software won't lead to any unexpected glitches.

"Microsoft has traditionally been known for its generous access to code for developers, and has built a deep and broad base of developers because of this relationship," Dave Sobel, a Fairfax, Va.-based Microsoft MVP (Most Valuable Professional) partner, said in an email.

By undoing the unpopular decision to withhold access to the Windows 8.1 and Server 2012 R2 RTM bits, Microsoft is moving to quiet the unrest simmering in its developer and partner ranks.

"They definitely made the right call," Andrew Brust, CEO of Microsoft analyst firm Blue Badge Insights, New York, told CRN. "At a time when Microsoft needs all the developer love it can get, and wants apps that can take advantage of the new features of Windows 8.1, giving developers the RTM bits instead of a release candidate is the way to go."

One Microsoft partner, who asked to remain anonymous, sees the initial decision to withhold access as part of a product secrecy campaign that began during the early stages of Windows 8 development and was spearheaded by former Windows chief Steven Sinofsky, who left last November.

"They keep trying to be all mysterious and Apple-like, but they have this massive business developer base that hates the way Apple does business, and by extension hates this new Microsoft approach," said the source.