Windows 8 released

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UPDATE: there is a new blog post which is more complete and updated. Check out

On the 15th of August 2012 Windows 8 has been officially released, although only to a limited audience, i.e. MSDN and TechNet subscribers. Through TechNet 24 SKUs are available, while this is 36 at MSDN (the same 24 + 12 checked builds, used for debugging and typically only useful for a small group of developers).

The release isn’t exactly a surprise, as it was announced about 2 weeks ago. As you probably know Windows 8 and other products were RTM’d on the 1st of August 2012. It was also officially announced Volume License customers with Software Assurance (SA) may expect Windows 8 on the 16th of August 2012 UPDATE: through the Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC) site. Other programs follow later, with General Availability (GA) planned for the 26th of October 2012.

So, which editions are we talking about?

These ones:

  • The base edition (you know, the one just called “Windows 8”)
  • Pro (like in “Windows 8 Pro”)
  • Enterprise (simply “Windows 8 Enterprise”)

Every edition is available for x86 and x64, as a normal version and as the N version (you know, the European Commission forced MS to make such a build, which is just a normal build, but without (“No”) media playback (Windows Media Player (WMP))) and in international English and British English (UK).

UPDATE: Some packages contain multiple products. The package that seems to contain just “Windows 8” actually contains the Windows 8 edition and Windows 8 Pro. Both editions in this package need a “key for 1 instance”, called a Product Key (PK). The Pro edition is also available in a VL variant (Volume License), so it accepts only Volume License Keys (VLK keys). VLK keys can be MAK keys or KMS keys, but let’s not deep dive into this topic right now.

On MSDN we can find a checked build for all of those in international English too UPDATE: , except for the Pro VL variants. Such a build is called “Debug/Checked Build”. This means we have 24 packages on TechNet and 32 on MSDN, but as the Windows 8 package actually contains 2 variants (Windows 8 retail and Windows 8 Pro retail), we actually have unique 28 variants on TechNet and 32 unique variants on MSDN. Attention: the Windows 8 Debug/Checked Builds seem to use a Windows 8 retail type key (PK type; even if it’s the MSDN or TechNet kind of this type), even for the Windows 8 Pro edition within the package; I think so, because details of the package claim multiple products are contained in the package, but only 1 key type is being mentioned (Windows 8 retail).

I haven’t seen any sign of a K version (“Korea”). This version was forced by South-Korea for Windows 7 and is actually just a normal build, but with 2 Korean website shortcuts on the desktop. Perhaps this enforcement isn’t valid anymore…? This implies there is of course no KN version right now, which is a normal build with the 2 Korean shortcuts and without WMP.

UPDATE: there are no special keys depending on the architecture, language, whether it’s the “normal” or whether the build is checked or not. The only exception seems to be the Windows 8 Pro Debug/Checked Build variant: a normal Windows 8 (not Pro!) retail key seems necessary. For N versions a special key is needed, except for the Enterprise editon. The Enterprise keys are no retail keys (PK keys), but Multiple Activation Keys (MAK). Windows 8 Pro VL is a special variant to be used with VLK keys.

Is everything ready now?

For Windows 8 itself, yes, of course, as it’s RTM’d. Many apps and services are ready by now too, but not all of them yet – far from that! It’s expected that the majority will be ready by the “big launch” of end October. For example, some apps aren’t in preview anymore, but are RTM’d too. The Windows Store has RTM’d too, but is not running feature-full yet; new apps allowed are limited to paid apps only, for example. The amount of apps in the store is still limited, but this is very normal, as only selected partners were allowed to use the store before and new apps are forced to be based on Windows 8 RTM, which is, well, available since today for non-selected entities, so hey, developers can’t write, test and upload apps in a few hours! Or can they…? 😉

If you’re looking for Windows Server 2012, wait till the 4th of September 2012. For Visual Studio 2012 you should wait a little bit longer (till the 12th of September 2012). All kinds of kits (SDK, WDK, ADK,…) will arrive soon. Oh, and for Windows Phone 8 (WP8) nothing is announced yet, but it’s rumored Microsoft and Nokia will announce more details on the 5th of September 2012 (that day Nokia World starts in Finland and MS and Nokia hold a press event in New York together). I think October 2012 is the month to see WP8’s release.

Windows RT is RTM’d too, as is told on the Building Windows 8 blog a few days ago. But as you probably know, this edition isn’t for sale. It’s only bundled with ARM based hardware and won’t be available before the 26th of October 2012.

Where can we find it?

All downloads are ISO files. One example is en_windows_8_enterprise_debug_checked_build_x64_dvd_917527.iso: Windows 8 Enterprise x64 checked build in international English. Another one is en-gb_windows_8_enterprise_n_x64_dvd_918053.iso: Windows 8 Enterprise N x64 in British English. UPDATE: File sizes are between 2 and 4 GB. “dvd” just means it’s the full package, like on a DVD (although it’s packaged here as an ISO file), which is not the same as a web installer for example.

And what about evaluations?

Oh yes, actually something else happened today: Windows 8 Enterprise x86 and Windows 8 Enterprise x64 are both available with their evaluation edition too. Just take a look at this page on the MSDN Evaluation Center: It cannot be found on the TechNet Evaluation Center ( though. Those evaluations expire after 90 days and then you need to reinstall another instance of Windows 8 (so you can’t “upgrade” your key). Of course this isn’t the case with the “normal” editions, but be aware that if you use MSDN or TechNet keys you’re still limited to what you are allowed to do according to the license agreement. It’s only allowed for real development purposes only (MSDN) or evaluation (TechNet). So don’t use it for your production environment, not even at home.


Language packs

Language packs can be downloaded too for TechNet and MSDN subscribers. A language pack (called Language Pack) contains multiple languages and no key is required. A x86 and x64 package is available. This means there are 26 (24+2) Windows 8 related packages to be downloaded for TechNet subscribers. For MSDN we count 32+2=34 packages, added by another 4 for a total of 38. Those other 4 are symbol packages. Symbols are used for debugging and can be downloaded when needed from a symbol server, but they can be achieved through a full package too. The packages don’t require a key, are in English and are available in x86 and x64 format, as well as in a normal and Debug/Checked Build type. Their size is between 450 and 550 MB, while language pack packages are between 1,4 and 2,1 GB.


UPDATE: In the meanwhile Windows 8 is also available for Volume License with Software Assurance (SA) customers through the VLSC site. More details about this will be added to this blog later, but I can tell you already there is a K and KN version out there. I suppose Microsoft Partner Network customers have access to Windows 8 too since today, as was announced (although I couldn’t check this for sure). If you are such a customer, check out and find out for yourself.

I hope you’re one of the lucky ones, so you can start using Windows 8 today. And I mean the final build J If you need more information about Windows 8, Windows Server 2012, Visual Studio 2012, Windows Phone 8, SDK/ADK/WDK/MDOP/RSAT/… and their test releases, RTMs, release dates,… then please take a look at my previous blog post:



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