After many years in development, Windows 8, the biggest update to Microsoft’s cash cow OS since Windows 95, if not ever, is finally ready to go. The Redmond software giant has signed off on the final release, build 9200, which means that it will soon be on its way to OEMs, volume license customers, and eventually consumers.

The rollout will begin on August 15 – two weeks from today – when Windows 8 is released for MSDN and TechNet subscribers. Many thought it might go out today, but that’s not the case. On the following day, August 16, volume license customers will be able to download the OS with their existing Microsoft Software Assurance accounts, and those with access to the Microsoft Partner Network will get it as well. Microsoft Action Pack Providers will receive Windows 8 on August 20, followed by volume license customers without Software Assurance on September 1. Last, but certainly not least, is the consumer release on October 26, which is when you’ll be able to purchase a new Windows 8 PC – like the Microsoft Surface – or pick up an upgrade copy of Windows 8 for $15 or $40, depending on how recently you purchased your PC.

August 15 is also the release date for the final version of Visual Studio 2012 and other Windows 8 development tools. In the meantime, the Windows Store is already open for business. Apps of all sorts, both premium and free, will be able to be uploaded to the Windows Store on the same date, provided the app was compiled using the final version of the dev tools.

[Windows Team Blog]