Microsoft has clarified the availability situation of Windows 8.1 in businesses.
Beginning today, TechNet and MSDN subscribers will now have access to Windows 8.1 Enterprise RTM. This also includes access for Volume License (VL) customers with an active Software Assurance (SA) agreement, as you receive a TechNet subscription as part of SA.
Over and over in the article they talk about evaluation. And that is correct, while businesses with SA on their licensing get free TechNet licenses, TechNet is for evaluation only.
… the primary objective in making Windows 8.1 RTM bits available on TechNet and MSDN is so developers and businesses can continue testing the latest version of the operating system … And once GA bits are available, you will be ready to conduct final testing and begin your deployment of Windows 8.1.
Using TechNet media for anything other than evaluation is illegal, no matter what licensing or rights you think you have. It is a binary thing; there is no grey area; there is no “if” or “but”; there are no ways around it no matter what your imagination might come up with.
Those with SA should be deploying the Enterprise edition of Windows 8.1 because it is the business feature-rich edition of the OS.
For all devices currently running Windows 8 and for those of you who are testing Windows 8.1, use Windows 8.1 Enterprise RTM as another opportunity to evaluate the operating system so you can start your official migration when Windows 8.1 Enterprise GA becomes available on October 18.
EDIT: Windows 8.1 Enterprise was added to MSDN/TechNet overnight. Please keep reading.
Microsoft reminds us again about the rights limitations of TechNet and MSDN media. You will soon have access to the Enterprise edition via those evaluation and test/dev programs but for production usage:
… you must have active SA for the Windows desktop operating system to have rights to Windows 8.1 Enterprise licenses.
VLSC (where customers with Windows 8 licensing can download Windows 8.1) will be updated with the GA bits of Windows 8.1 (what you can deploy for production) on:
… October 18 and for new customers to purchase through Microsoft Volume License Resellers beginning November 1.