Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) has changed course again: the Redmond, Wash.-based company announced on Monday that developers would have a chance to test the Windows 8.1 update, codenamed Windows "Blue," before its official retail release date on Oct. 18, reversing an earlier decision to make tech professionals wait until the Windows 8.1 update became available to the general public. Microsoft will allow consumers who own Windows to update from 8 to 8.1 on the morning of Oct. 17.

The reversal continues a pattern at Microsoft of swaying to consumer demand, following the decision to remove a requirement on the Xbox One to access the Internet once daily as well as used-game restrictions, and the reintroduction of the Windows Start button. Microsoft has begun to release the Windows 8.1 update through its MSDN and TechNet services.

Microsoft CVP Steven Guggenheimer said in a blog post that the decision to change course on Windows 8.1 was based on customer feedback, that the “decision to not initially release Windows 8.1 or Windows Server 2012 R2 RTM bits was a big challenge for our developer partners as they’re readying new Windows 8.1 apps and for IT professionals who are preparing for Windows 8.1 deployments.”

The decision to delay the Windows 8.1 RTM release until general availability led to an outcry among developers who said they needed access to Windows 8.1’s release to manufacturer, or RTM, bits to ensure that their apps would work with the update when it rolled out to the public. An updated version of Visual Studio 2013 was also made available yesterday.

The Windows 8.1 Enterprise update will be available to the MSDN, Technet and volume licensees before the end of the month. While Windows 8.1 RT has already been made available online through software piracy, it will not see a release to developers prior to Oct. 2013.

Microsoft made the official announcement on its website:

"Based on the feedback from you and our partners, we’re pleased to announce that we will be making available our current Windows 8.1 and Windows 8.1 Pro RTM builds (as well as Windows Server 2012 R2 RTM builds) to the developer and IT professional communities via MSDN and TechNet subscriptions. The current Windows 8.1 Enterprise RTM build will be available through MSDN and TechNet for businesses later this month. For developers, we are also making available the Visual Studio 2013 Release Candidate."

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