The original idea was for Microsoft to be able to RTM Windows 8.1 and then ship it to both OEM's and Consumers at around the same time. However today a new report has surfaced claiming that Microsoft aren't planning this at all, in a matter of fact they aren't even planning to let TechNet or MSDN subscribers gain access to the bits early.
Mary Jo Foley claims that her sources have told her that Microsoft are "not planning to make available the final Windows 8.1 bits to its MSDN or TechNet subscribers shortly after the release RTMs." This is terrible news for everyone. With Windows 8, TechNet and MSDN users gained access to the RTM 2 weeks after the bits went final. This time we won't be getting it until October.
So it seems this time around Microsoft are having a launch date where everyone gets it at the same time, instead of letting IT professionals and developers have first dibs. This is unfortunate but could be a good thing in the long run, as it may be Microsoft's second chance at launching Windows 8. Many are calling Windows 8.1 what Windows 7 was to Vista, an improvement.