The wait is over for the official bits, at least if you are an MSDN or TechNet subscriber. Windows 8 is available to MSDN subscribers via this link and TechNet here. Servers were bogged down yesterday with people trying to download the bits and today should prove a better day on getting the software. If you aren't an MSDN or Technet subscriber you can 90-day evaluation version here. The code in these versions is the same that will be released to the general public on October 26th as an upgrade or with new Windows 8 PCs.
Microsoft Software Assurance customers will get their RTM today and Volume License people on September 1st.
The 90-day trial edition is Windows 8 Enterprise. It comes in both 64 and 32-bit as well as several languages. One warning though, this evaluation version cannot be upgraded to the full retail when the 90 days expires. Enterprise comes with business options such as Windows To Go, DirectAccess, BrainCache and RemoteFX virtualization. Windows Media Center is not an option with the Enterprise version, even by upgrade. A full breakdown on the comparison of features between Windows RT, Windows 8 retail, Windows 8 Pro and Enterprise can be found at this location.
At this time on MSDN, Microsoft has not provided a key for unlocking the Windows Media Center features of Windows 8 Pro.
The final RTM of Windows 8 featured several changes which included more customization options in the Start Screen, new Bing and People apps, the removal of Aero and other improvements under the hood. The final version of the Windows Store was also launched so developers can start working on Windows 8 style apps (formerly called Metro).
It is important to note that versions before the RTM cannot be upgraded. This would include the Release Preview or Consumer Preview. You must start fresh in that case.
Upgrade Options for Windows 8
- Users running Windows 7 Starter, Home Basic, or Home Premium can upgrade to Windows 8 with their system settings, personal files, and applications intact.
- Users running Windows 7 Starter, Home Basic, Home Premium, and Professional will be able to upgrade to Windows 8 Pro with system settings, personal files, and applications intact.
- Customers running Windows 7 Pro or Enterprise editions can update to Windows 8 Enterprise with system settings, personal files, and applications intact.
- Vista users without SP1 can upgrade to Windows 8, but only personal files will be preserved. Customers that do have SP1 will have their system settings transferred as well.
- XP users with SP3 can upgrade directly to Windows 8, but only personal files will be preserved.
Of course some other restrictions include 32-bit users can only upgrade to 32-bit version of Windows 8.
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