Windows 8 is Microsoft’s big bet on the future of end-user computing, which is being reshaped by the "bring your own device" (BYOD) phenomenon.
Having witnessed the PC market give ground to tablets, particularly Apple’s iPad, the software giant is attempting to bridge two worlds: touch enabled interfaces and the traditional desktop. This involves developing a version for ARM-powered mobile devices called Windows RT and even entering the computing hardware manufacturing game with its own Surface tablet.
Still, PC software contributes greatly to Microsoft's bottom line, so the software giant has put 90-day versions of Windows 8 RTM up on MSDN and TechNet, the company's developer and IT professional community and resource sites. "The Windows 8 Enterprise 90-day evaluation is available to developers to build and test Windows 8 apps on the final version of Windows 8," says the company.
Ostensibly targeted at developers and IT decision makers, Microsoft is currently opening the Windows 8 RTM floodgates to any and all interested parties. That is, if Microsoft's servers ever recover from the crush of eager downloaders.
Attempts by this writer to download an ISO of the OS are being met with errors, confirming online reports that demand is crippling the company's servers.
The Windows 8 Enterprise 90-day trial is available in both 32-bit and 64-bit editions, as well as in a variety of languages, including English, Chinese, French, German and Spanish and a handful of others. Developer that want to use the next few months to get a leg up on coding Windows 8 apps are being encouraged to visit a Windows Dev Center downloads page for Visual Studio 2012, tools and SDK.
Aside from an extra 4 GB of hard drive space, Windows 8 Enterprise's recommended specs fall in line with those of the Consumer Preview released in February.
According to Microsoft, downloading and installing the evaluation is a one-shot deal -- the product cannot be updated to a full version of Windows. As such, the company suggests installing it on a separate partition or virtual machine.