The timing of this is provocative. This is not a single afternoon's decision. This probably takes 7 or 8 weeks of having this as a fixed date - or having ONE fixed date - and then having that adjusted in the first few weeks of that time, then finalized - probably - 4 weeks ago. "OK, everyone get their fixes in and tests done. That's it - accept no more."
Then, it was probably scheduled for Friday. Last Friday. Ballmer-Day. B-Day. Bounce Day.
There will be speculation about whether Ballmer made this decision or if he was placed on that 'long walk on a short plank" situation. I think "forced out" gets more of a serious consideration for me because this W8.1-RTM Announcement is made sooo close. Over the weekend, the speculation was exactly that - "They'd have said that Friday but the Ballmer news threw a loop into everything else."
I wonder which MS board members are filing statements to sell large blocks of their stock today? "Make me a billion, too!" (I gather that the new leader is already selected. After all, you don't fire the head coach without having a new one selected, or at least a very short list of prospects lined up.)
For all the Win8 users, what's your time frame for this 8.1 installation? Mine will probably be "Wait two weeks" again. Maybe wait some more after that IF the problems start stacking up.