It’s On? Windows 8 Looks to Summer Finish, October Arrival

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Harry McCracken /

Until now, all we’ve known about Windows 8’s release timeframe is that we could probably expect it sometime in 2012 — late 2012, to place it more specifically within the ballpark. But today we have all but official word from Bloomberg that Microsoft is on track to finish its next operating system this summer and roll it out in October. That, says Bloomberg, is “according to people with knowledge of the schedule.” So no, not an official Redmond declaration, but sources apparently dependable enough to warrant an outing story.

Bloomberg’s sources also say Windows 8 will support devices running both Intel and ARM chips off the block, which jibes with what we’ve heard (and Microsoft’s been saying) all along. Specifically, the sources say we’ll see less than five ARM devices at launch “compared with more than 40 Intel machines.”

(MORE: Next Up: New iPad vs. Windows 8)

Why October? Seasonal timing, of course. Microsoft wants in on the traditional holiday shopping window, and has a history of hitting it. Windows 7 launched in October 2009, Windows Vista launched in early November 2006, Windows XP launched in August 2001, Windows Me launched in September 2000 and Windows 95 in August 1995. The only anomalies are Windows 98 and Windows 2000 — the latter debuted in May 1998, the former in February 2000.

There’s that, plus Microsoft wants to throw down with Apple in the tablet space, and based on early critical reaction and analyst prognostication, Windows 8 represents its best chance of doing so to date. With Apple selling iPads by the truckload, the newest iPad just released to rave reviews and non-Android tablet alternatives faltering, the time to strike is…if not yesterday, certainly yet this year.

Gartner analyst Michael Gartenberg agrees, telling Bloomberg that “[the] last thing Microsoft wants to have is a situation where there are no compelling Windows tablets at a time when the new iPad looks like it’s going to be a good seller for the holidays.”

So when will Microsoft put its official imprimatur on the October timeframe or give us a specific date? April, says Bloomberg’s sources, claiming Microsoft is going to throw a party of sorts early that month and finally spill the beans on Windows 8’s release and marketing details.

MORE: Windows 8 Consumer Preview: One Step Closer to the PC’s Future