When Microsoft revealed this week that it would not provide the RTM version of Windows 8/RT to developers or other non-OEMs ahead of its late October general availability, it triggered a predictable (and avoidable) controversy. We can debate the merits of this approach elsewhere, but for now, the firm has provided some guidance for developers who are wondering about the next step.
"Windows 8.1 builds on the bold re-imagining of Windows that began with Windows 8," a new post to the Windows App Builder Blog notes. "With 8.1, we’re launching an improved Windows Store that offers you better discoverability, merchandising, and monetization options. We’ll continue to support the building of a healthy app ecosystem around Windows with the Windows 8.1 launch and through global marketing campaigns that highlight the Windows experience across devices and apps while driving costumers to the Windows Store."
You should check out Microsoft Confirms Windows 8.1 RTM for my take on this controversy. Long story short, there's no excuse for keeping this software out of developers' hands.
But since developers can't publish apps for Windows 8.1 in the Windows Store until the day of general availability, which is October 18, 2013, what should developers do now?
Here's Microsoft's advice, slightly expanded to accommodate a few things they left out.
Porting a Windows 8 app to Windows 8.1. If you already have an app that runs on Windows 8 today, the article Migrating Windows 8 apps to Windows 8.1 Preview will tell you what you need to know. And Windows 8.1 Preview: New APIs and features for developers will help you discover new, Windows 8.1-specific API features. The Preview version of Visual Studio 2013 lets you target Windows 8.1 already.
Porting a Windows Phone app to Windows 8.1. Check out Resources for Windows Phone developers (Windows Store apps) for information about porting a Windows Phone app to Windows 8.1.
Porting an iOS app to Windows 8.1. iOS developers should take a peek at Resources for iOS developers (Windows Store apps) for information about porting their apps to the new platform.
Porting an Android app to Windows 8.1. Android developers can also take the plunge: Look at Resources for Android developers (Windows Store apps) for more info.
"As we approach the general availability of Windows 8.1 and of Visual Studio 2013, we’ll provide guidance on this blog and in the Windows Dev Center on how to make sure your app is ready for publishing to the Windows Store in 8.1," the post also notes. (Oddly enough, while Windows 8.1 is completed now, Visual Studio 2013 is not.)
Basically, developers are in a kind of holding pattern until October. I hope there are no API changes between the Preview and RTM/GA versions of Windows 8.1.