Microsoft is sticking to its deadlines and has released the RTM build of Windows 8.1 to manufacturers.
Windows 8.1 will feature a bevy of bug fixes and enhancements, the most notable of which is the re-inclusion of the Start button. Microsoft had earlier announced that Windows 8.1 will hit general availability on October 17th, with manufacturers getting the RTM (Release To Manufacturing) build sometime during the last week of August. Editor of Windows SuperSite Paul Thurrott tweeted on Friday saying that Microsoft has indeed signed off on Windows 8.1 and will deliver the build to OEMs in the coming days. The final build number is 9600.16384. winblue_rtm. 130821-1623.
— Paul Thurrott (@thurrott) August 23, 2013
Unlike previous builds, TechNet and MSDN subscribers will not be able to download this version, and have to wait until mid-October. It is alleged that Microsoft wants to use the time to release interim big fixes, called Quick Fix Engineering, and then deliver it to the OEMs so that they can incorporate it into their builds. While Microsoft has not acknowledged this publically, it seems that Windows 8 isn’t as stable as Windows 7. In an internal memo leaked to the press, Jon DeVaan, the corporate vice president for Windows Development at Microsoft has mentioned that Windows 8.1 will have a “fighting chance” of being as reliable as Windows 7 “in some areas.” So, Microsoft is using all the time it can get to iron out the bugs before Windows 8.1 is available to the masses.
Also, Microsoft intends to bring more close-knit integration between its platforms, Windows client, Windows Phone, and Xbox One. However, it might be awhile before it manages to do so.