Windows 8 is finally trickling out to developers, with the final RTM version of the operating system available to those with Technet and MSDN subscriptions. Microsoft has also released a 90 day trial of Windows 8 Enterprise for those that don’t have such subscriptions.
This trial has all the final features of Windows 8, unlike the consumer preview version which was released before Microsoft removed the Aero interface. Even so, it isn’t something we’d recommend anyone but power users downloading, because it comes with some serious caveats that make it a less than ideal choice for the average user.
The biggest of these is that when Microsoft says 90 days it means 90 days. Once that time runs out your PC will be rendered nigh on unusable, with the desktop fading to black and your PC restarting every hour. The only option will be a reformat and install of a legitimate version of the operating system.
It also comes with no upgrade path. If you install the preview you’ll need to reinstall a legitimate version of Windows before you can upgrade your system to Windows 8. To this end Microsoft recommends those who really, desperately need to install it to do so in either a virtual machine or on a secondary partition.
You’ll also need to login with a Live ID to download the software, and once installed you’ll need to activate the trial within 10 days. If you don’t activate it, you’ll end up with the same functionality degradation that happens once the 90 days expires.
For mere mortals the consumer versions of Windows 8 are still on track for an October 26th release. At that point you will be able to upgrade from legitimate versions of Windows XP and Windows 7 for $US 39.99.