Microsoft executives have been hinting about an October 2012 release for Windows 8 since last September. But with a new Bloomberg report renewing this claim and citing "people with knowledge of the schedule," perhaps it's time to start taking this rumor a bit more seriously.
Microsoft president Steven Sinofsky first floated the notion of October 2012, vaguely, at the company's BUILD Conference in September 2011, noting that the company typically takes about three years to ship each version of Windows. (Windows 7 shipped to the public in October 2009.)
Then, Microsoft director Janelle Poole reiterated this hint at CES in January 2012, noting that "Windows releases come round about every three years, and this year will be three years in October since we launched Windows 7. So I think that's a good guideline to consider." I wrote about this comment in WinInfo Short Takes that week.
Now Bloomberg is reporting that this schedule is still in place, despite a later-than-expected Beta release, which Microsoft rechristened the Windows 8 Consumer Preview and delivered on the last day of February. According to the news agency, Microsoft plans to deliver Windows 8 to the public in October 2012, and the rollout will be accompanied by new devices based on the classic Intel-type PC architecture as well as those based on the ARM platform.
The report notes that there will, however, be fewer than 5 ARM-based Windows 8 tablets at launch, compared to over 40 PCs and devices based on the Intel platform, which is far more familiar to PC makers. ARM device releases will ramp up throughout the 2012 holiday period and beyond.
Analysts are quick to pounce on the need for Microsoft to deliver its new OS, and thus a full slate of new PCs and devices, including tablets, in time for the holiday season. Otherwise, Apple's dominant iPad will enjoy its third consecutive holiday selling period without any significant competition, unless of course you consider Amazon's single Kindle Fire model competition. But I'd argue that October is in some ways late to market and that Microsoft and its partners should rush to deliver Windows 8 solutions well before that date.
Regardless of the timing, Windows 8's predecessor, Windows 7, has proven a sales sensation, selling roughly 20 million licenses every single month since its release, a record for Microsoft. In January, the company announced that over 525 million copies of Windows 7 had been sold so far. And another 150 million units could be sold before Windows 8 debuts.