Windows 8 has been released to manufacturing (RTM) ahead of its planned launch date in October.

Select audiences, including developers, IT professionals and partners will have early access to final RTM code beginning later this month.

Highlights include:

* 15 August: Developers building new apps for Windows 8 will be able to download the final version of Windows 8 via MSDN subscriptions, and can visit the Windows Dev Centre to get access to the final build of Visual Studio 2012;

* 15 August: IT professionals testing Windows 8 in organizations will be able to access the final version of Windows 8 through a TechNet Subscription;

* 16 August: Customers with existing Microsoft Software Assurance for Windows will be able to download Windows 8 Enterprise edition through the Volume License Service Center (VLSC), allowing them to test, pilot and begin adopting Windows 8 Enterprise within their organisation;

* 16 August: Microsoft Partner Network members will have access to Windows 8; and

* 20 August: Microsoft Action Pack Providers (MAPS) will receive access to Windows 8..

New PCs loaded with Windows 8 will be available on 26 October.