Microsoft announced Wednesday that Windows 8 has been released to manufacturing. The code has been delivered to OEM partners for building Windows 8 hardware. Windows 8 and hardware running it will be available Friday, Oct. 26.

Upgrading to Windows 8 will cost $39.99 except for those who buy Windows 7 PCs starting today. Those consumers will pay only $14.99 to upgrade.

Starting Aug. 15 Windows 8 will be available through MSDN and TechNet subscriptions. On Aug. 16, customers with existing Software Assurance licenses will be able to download Windows 8 Enterprise Edition to begin the testing and roll out of the OS in their organizations. Microsoft Partners will receive it Aug. 20. Non-Software Assurance customers will be able to buy it Sept. 1 from volume license resellers.

In a blog entry on the release, Microsoft's Steven Sinofsky emphasized the readiness of the release: "The previews of Windows 8 (Developer, Consumer, Release) have been the most widely and deeply used test releases of any product we have ever done. Over 16 million PCs actively participated in these programs, including approximately 7 million on the Release Preview that started 8 weeks ago. The depth and breadth of testing validate the readiness of Windows 8 for the market."