Microsoft will wrap up work on Windows 10 this week in preparation for distributing the operating system to device makers, according to numerous online reports.
The Redmond, Wash. company will declare Windows 10's "release to manufacturing" (RTM) milestone this week, The Verge contended today.
RTM is a historical way post in Microsoft's development schedule that denotes when code is sufficiently stable to deliver to OEMs (original equipment manufacturers), who use the build to pre-load the OS onto their new devices prior to sale.
Neowin also chimed in today, claiming that "internal sources" indicated Microsoft would sign off on RTM this week.
Others had also found signals of the impending RTM in a recently-leaked edition, pegged as build 10163. Perennial leaker WZor, for example, pointed out that build 10163 included a reference in the OS's Calendar app to Thursday, July 9, as the "RTM Sign-Off" date, when Microsoft is to green light the code as fit.
The BuildFeed website also noted that 10163 was tagged as from "th1," purportedly a reference to the internal RTM branch of "Threshold," a former code name for Windows 10. Another build marked as th1 -- 10176 -- was issued Sunday by Microsoft, according to BuildFeed.
The last official Windows 10 build was 10162, pushed to testers on July 2. Build 10162 was the third issued within a week, Microsoft's fastest pace yet, another sign that the company was closing on final code.
RTM has lost some of its importance with Windows 10, which Microsoft plans to update and refresh regularly, but device makers have to start somewhere. OEMs armed with the code have a shot at making the lucrative back-to-school sales season in the U.S., contrary to expectations two months ago.
In the past, Microsoft has given OEMs months of lead time. For Windows 8, there was a 12-week lag between RTM and the first devices going on sale with the new OS; Windows 7's grace was 13 weeks. If the recent signs of impending RTM are accurate, Microsoft has pared that to less than three with Windows 10.
But Microsoft's radical development changes mean that it will keep churning out preview builds post-RTM. What remains unclear is what RTM means to Microsoft beyond serving as the build it delivers to OEMs and perhaps retailers, who need the OS to provide upgrade services to customers who recently purchased Windows 8.1-powered devices.
While Microsoft has said that it will stagger ready-to-upgrade notifications to customers, those alerts will show up only after the company has pushed the file(s) to eligible Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 devices. It could conceivably begin distributing the code in the background beginning this week if it does, in fact, declare RTM, then trigger the upgrade notifications to more than just the Windows Insider testers on July 29.
However, that's apparently not the plan. "Each day of the roll-out, we will listen, learn and update the experience for all Windows 10 users," said Terry Myerson, who leads Microsoft's OS and devices groups, last week. Myerson's comments hinted that Microsoft will not only stick to its "waves" distribution scheme, but push different bits to users over time.
If Microsoft blesses Windows 10 RTM on Thursday, OEMs that sell build-to-order PCs through their online outlets have the best chance of having machines ready by the end of the month. Dell, for instance, promises to ship pre-ordered Windows 10 systems on July 29.
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