Microsoft today released its touch-friendly Windows 8 operating system to manufacturers (RTM, or Released to Manufacturing). The release signals a milestone that indicates the software juggernaut has completed product development and exterminated enough bugs to feel confident enough to hand out final code to OEM partners. Companies like Dell and Hewlett-Packard can now begin prepping new Windows 8 PCs and tablets, which they'll introduce to the public next month.
Windows 8 is scheduled for general availability on October 26, 2012, though it will trickle out to other sectors before then, starting today. On August 15, developers and IT professionals will be able to download Windows 8 via MSDN and TechNet subscriptions, and on August 16, customers with existing Microsoft Software Assurance for Windows will have access to Windows 8 Enterprise through Microsoft's Volume License Service Center (VLSC). Microsoft Partner Network members will also be able to get their hands on Windows 8 starting August 16. The two remaining pre-launch dates include August 20 (for Microsoft Action Pack Providers) and September 1 (for Volume License customers without Software Assurance).
It's still a nearly two-month wait for the general public, though users are invited to get acquainted with the Metro-sexual OS by downloading the Release Preview.