Two weeks ago we announced that Windows 8 released to manufacturing (RTM). Since then we’ve been preparing builds for distribution as described in the Windows 8 has reached the RTM milestone post on Windows Team blog. I’m happy to let you know that we are now ready with early access builds for developers. In this post I’ll give you some pointers on the best way to get and install the RTM build and I’ll also point you to resources you can use to get your apps up and running on Windows 8 RTM.

Getting the RTM version

Depending on what Microsoft programs you or your organization might be part of, there are a few ways to get the RTM version of Windows 8. If you have an MSDN Subscription or a TechNet Professional Subscription, the RTM is available today. For info on other programs see the Windows 8 has reached the RTM milestone post on Windows Team blog.

    If you are not part of one of these programs, don’t worry, we’re also offering a 90-day evaluation of the Windows 8 Enterprise edition for developers. This is available now from the Windows Dev Center download page along with Visual Studio Express 2012, Windows 8 design assets, code samples, and all the related tools and SDK’s you need to build apps.

    If you use the evaluation version, we recommend installing it on separate drive or partition or in a VM. This way you’ll be able to upgrade from your original OS to the Windows 8 RTM when it becomes available in October. If you don’t, then you’ll need to reinstall from scratch when you decide to move to the full version. Make sure you read all the details on the download page.

    Building apps on Windows 8 RTM

    After you’ve installed the RTM I’m sure you’ll want to get started building apps as quickly as possible. If you’re new to Windows 8 app development, head straight to the Windows Dev Center to get started building Windows 8 apps. Those of you that have been with us for a while will appreciate updates to the Dev Center available today including more detailed API docs, additional design guidance, new How to’s, and many more samples to help you in your app building. Plus, starting next week, we’ll be rolling out Dev Center content, which includes 10 new languages since Release Preview.

    If you’ve already been building apps on the Release Preview, then you’re probably wondering how to move those apps to RTM. This shouldn’t be too much work. With the Windows 8 RTM, there are a minimal number of changes that impact your apps since Release Preview. Over the last few months we’ve made some targeted fixes to fine-tune the final experience and respond to feedback, but we’ve stayed away from any sweeping changes. By and large, your apps that ran on Release Preview should only require small changes (if any) to run on Windows 8 RTM.

    To help guide you through the changes we’ve created a Migration guide. This guide walks you through the basic steps for migrating your app to the new version of Windows and it also calls out the changes that we made to the API surface so you can quickly see what, if any, updates you need to make.

    Moving forward

    I hope you are as excited about the Windows 8 RTM as we are. It won’t be long now before your apps are in the store (see the store’s recent post, RTM Windows Store is now open for paid apps, company accounts) and people are using them every day! So go ahead and download the RTM build and Visual Studio, and then use the Windows Dev Center resources and the Migration guide to build exciting apps on Windows 8. We can’t wait to see your apps!

    --Ian LeGrow, Group Program Manager, Windows