It may be that I was travelling for a week on dubious wi-fi, more likely it was the Microsoft servers struggling under load, as MSDN and TechNet subscribers downloaded the final code for the 90-day evaluation copy of Windows 8. But I finally have installed the Windows 8 RTM (release to manufacturing) that anyone can download.
The Windows 8 ‘Gold Master’ was officially Released to Manufacturing (RTM) August 15, which means it’s available to the hardware partners to install on the next wave of Windows PCs. The MSDN (Microsoft Developer Network) download site listed all versions of Windows 8 RTM including Windows 8, and Windows Enterprise. The general public won’t be able to buy Windows 8 until October 26.
Microsoft stated the 90-day trial copy is “intended for developers building Windows 8 apps and IT professionals interested in trying Windows 8 Enterprise on behalf of their organization,” but enthusiasts and early adopters can also download the evaluation edition. A product key is not required.
Unlike the versions distributed to TechNet and MSDN’s paying subscribers, the evaluation edition expires after 90 days of use, when Windows 8 blackens the desktop background, displays a persistent notice that the OS is not genuine and shuts down the PC every hour without giving you a chance to save works in progress. That makes it pretty clear it is an evaluation copy.
“It is not possible to upgrade the evaluation to a licensed working version of Windows 8,” Microsoft warns very clearly on the download pages. When the evaluation period expires, users will have to replace it with a licensed copy, and reinstall all applications, other software and files.
To download the 90-day evaluation, available in both 32- and 64-bit versions, go to the Microsoft Evaluation Center.
The 32-bit RTM disk image is a 2.4GB download.
It’s worth noting that upgrading from the Windows 8 Release Preview migrates files and settings but does not preserve installed apps. AJS