Microsoft's decision to reverse its previously stated plan and deliver the released-to-manufacturing (RTM) Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2 bits ahead of launch had many developers rejoicing this week.

But what about Microsoft's volume license customers? The blog post in which Microsoft execs outlined their reversal was somewhat cryptic on this point.

Up until this year, Microsoft's volume licensees and those with TechNet/MSDN subscriptions were able to download the RTM versions of new Windows client and server releases shortly after the products RTM'd. Microsoft's new plan -- given it is now moving to a more rapid release cadence, and one via which it can continue to update products regularly, post-RTM -- was to withhold the RTM bits from everyone except OEMs until "launch"/general availability, which is October 18. Developer outcry led to the reinstatement of early RTM access for MSDN/TechNet.

The situation is more complicated for volume licensees, who are accustomed to being able to go to the Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC) and download RTM bits within days after they were declared "gold."

Starting this year, the RTM release of the latest Windows client and server products isn't going to be available en masse to all volume customers, according to a Microsoft spokesperson. Here's how the rollout will work, according to a spokesperson who answered my questions on this late on September 11:

Q: Will the Win 8.1 RTM bits go on VLSC later this month?

Q: Will volume licensees get the enterprise SKU only? Or also Win 8.1 core and Win 8.1 Pro?

Q: What about Windows Server 2012 R2? Which versions will be available and how/when?
Read more at: Windows 8.1: How and when can volume licensees get the RTM bits? | ZDNet