Windows 8 released to manufacturers ahead of launch date

Finished code now heading to manufacturers ahead of October

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After years of development the first Microsoft OS designed for PCs, Tablets and Smartphones is now ready to be baked onto upcoming products

Microsoft has announced that Windows 8 RTM is now being shipped to hardware manufacturers confirming that the multi-device OS is now ready for its official release date of October 26th.

In a statement on the official Windows blog Brandon LeBlanc confirmed that the OS was already on its way to hardware manufacturers who will now be able to start pre-loading it onto their tablets and PCs.

"Today, I am excited to announce that Windows 8 has been released to manufacturing (RTM)! This means we’ve completed the product development and testing of the product and have started handing off the final code to our OEM partners."

"They can now begin preparing new Windows 8 PCs and devices they’ll introduce starting with General Availability."

With Lenovo's first Windows 8 tablet already leaked and a number of other manufacturers such as Asus already confirmed as working on Windows 8 devices, these will surely be the first ports of call for the brand-new OS from Microsoft.

Windows 8 features:

Windows 8 is the first OS to run across PCs, Tablets and Smartphones thanks to a shared kernel which essentially allows them to speak the same basic language.

What this means is the first unified Windows 8 store which will let you download apps on your tablet and then sync it with your PC and use that same app on the PC.

For consumers it'll be available in three forms, Windows 8 RT which is an ARM-compatible slimmed down tablet edition, Windows 8 which will run on Intel-tablets and PCs and of course Windows Phone 8 the smartphone variant.

Microsoft Surface tablet:

While no smartphones or PCs have been confirmed as being built for Windows 8, Microsoft started the ball rolling just a few weeks ago with the launch of its own Microsoft Surface Tablet which will be available in two versions: Windows 8 RT, and Windows 8 Pro.

While the RT will clearly be the main contender for the New Apple iPad it's the Windows 8 Pro which many will be looking to try and get their hands on with its Full HD screen and full Windows 8 OS on board.

Windows 8 release date:

The Windows 8 release date is October 26th, when consumers will be able to download the upgrade to Windows 8 or Windows 8 pro with prices starting at $39.99 (No official UK pricing yet).

If you're impatient however then you can download the Windows 8 Release Preview which lets you get a taste of Windows 8 in bite-sized form including the Metro interface and also many of the new features that will be available.