Microsoft has announced that Windows 8 development is now complete. The final Release to Manufacturing (RTM) code will now be delivered to the company's hardware partners within the next few days to ready PCs and tablets with the new operating system in time for general availability on October 26th. Microsoft's final milestone concludes almost two years of development for its new Metro inspired Windows 8 software and marks the beginning of the release phase.

The final build is 9200.16384.win8_rtm.120725-1247 and Microsoft says MSDN and TechNet customers will be able to download it from August 15th. Microsoft Software Assurance customers will get the RTM bits on August 16th, and Volume License customers without Software Assurance will be able to purchase Windows 8 through Microsoft Volume License Resellers on September 1st. Steven Sinofsky, Microsoft's head of Windows, says the company "will continue to monitor and act on your real world experiences with Windows 8," despite the RTM milestone.

The finalization of WIndows 8 also means that the Windows Store will go live on August 15th. Developers will be able to access the final tools and submission process for Metro style apps at the Windows Dev Center later this month. PCs and tablets, including Microsoft's own Surface, will ship with Windows 8 on October 26th.