Today’s Building Windows 8 blog post, Readying Metro style apps for launch, is particularly interesting in that I had to re-read it three times to make sure it was as simple as this: Windows 8 will RTM soon, and Microsoft now admits it secretly provided a small group of developers with several Windows 8 interim builds that no one else received.

Steven Sinofsky writes:

“We know many folks are looking forward to RTM. Developers currently working on apps in the Store are especially excited. We have hundreds of apps in the Windows Store now and many more on the way. There’s a broad set of developers around the world that we have been working closely with since the first Developer Preview. The WinRT platform is evolving rapidly during development based on feedback, and we have the dual task of keeping the Store up and running so we can supply apps to the millions of Preview users, while also getting ready for the next build. It means that if we change or add APIs or improve the tools, the apps will change and require an updated OS to test and verify the app. That’s why we have been providing updated builds to developers who have or are committed to having apps in the Store through strong partnerships. This post explains the work we’ve been doing since September to keep developers updated with APIs and tools so that apps can stay up to date. We’re doing this even after the Release Preview, just to make sure new apps are ready to go once we get to broad availability.”

Paul explains:

Windows 8 will RTM soon. Developers with close relationships with Microsoft have secretly received access to several internal builds of Windows 8 since the Consumer Preview, even though most developers only got access to the three publicly released milestones.

This post is actually relatively short and isn’t broken down into sections. The key points are:

The available catalog of Metro-style apps represents preview versions of the apps to come. The final versions of all Metro style apps will be available when Windows 8 becomes generally available.

Microsoft released 8 developer preview versions of Windows 8 since last year. Three of these are the known public releases, and five were secret releases given only to “a limited developer audience.”

All of these Windows 8 releases—public and secret—included new APIs and system capabilities, updated developer tools, better performance and reliability, and responses to developer feedback.

The first Windows 8 developer preview was released at BUILD in September 2011.

Developer Preview 4 and 5 were released in February 2012. (The Consumer Preview was DP5.)

Developer Preview 6 was released in April. Developer Preview 7 was released in May.  (The Release Preview was DP7.)

(Microsoft doesn’t mention that Developer Preview 8 was just released, and dated from last Friday, or that the post-milestone DP releases actually have names like Windows 8 Release Preview Update.)

Microsoft’s next major milestone is RTM. This will come after DP8, which this post doesn’t actually discuss for some reason. (RTM will occur between July 12 and July 21 though that was also not discussed.)

Once Windows 8 hits RTM, Microsoft considers the platform to be complete for general availability (GA). So there will be no more developer preview releases after RTM and before GA.

Some Metro-style apps in Windows 8 (as well as third party apps) will “look and perform differently when you download the final released version(s).” That’s because they’re changing.  Some third party apps are being updated for RTM and won’t be released or updated until then.

The release of Windows 8 is really just the beginning.  Metro-style apps are dynamic and will be updated on an ongoing basis, providing new capabilities over time.

Summary

Windows 8 will RTM soon. For some reason, Microsoft just revealed that it has secretly released five Windows 8 developer preview releases to a select group of closer partners only since late last year. This revelation came as part of a vague discussion about how Metro-style apps will continually evolve over time.

Note: No, I did not provide a De-Obfusc8r post explaining Introducing the Photos app for Windows 8, the previous post to the Building Windows 8 Blog. That post was actually succinct and to the point. I’m not trying to be abusive here, just helpful.