In a blog post today, Microsoft is sending the message that they have heard the huge mass of complaints about not making Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2 RTMs available early to their biggest supporters.
Today, Microsoft has announced that they have changed course and decided to fulfill the requests of developers and IT Pros and make the RTM bits available for download from MSDN and TechNet.
You can read the full announcement here: Download Windows 8.1 RTM, Visual Studio 2013 RC and Windows Server 2012 R2 RTM Today
So, now we know why Microsoft really extended the TechNet subscriptions by 90 days. If Microsoft had made this announcement after the original TechNet deadline of August 31, those that relied on TechNet for access to products would have been in a furor that Microsoft would never recover from. The 90-day extension ensures that the longtime faithful still get access to the RTM versions of Microsoft's latest updates. It also ensures that Microsoft can hit a large audience with the RTM releases, hoping to curb reports from those ready to take a negative spin on the updated releases.
Upon hearing of the 90-day extension, most were left scratching their heads, trying to figure out what kind of value it really brought with it. No one could come up with a logical conclusion. But, now it makes perfect sense. In truth, the 90-day extension was not to benefit TechNet subscribers and cull the complaints, but it was a way for Microsoft to deliver its latest updates (with gritted teeth and clenched fists) to the masses, hoping to get positive reviews before full public availability. Time will tell.
Incidentally, they are also making Visual Studio 2013 RC available for download today, too.