Windows 8 will launch in October, and Microsoft is already calling it the company’s most important release since Windows 95.
Speaking at Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference, Windows CMO and CFO Tami Reller told attendees that Windows 8 will be released to manufacturing in August with a general release date of October. For enterprise customers with Software Assurance benefits, they may get it as early as August.
Windows 8 is a key release for the venerable software house, as it is built as a tablet first operating system, designed to compete with Apple’s iOS products, such as the iPad.
As such, the new ‘Metro’ UI is designed to be touch screen friendly, and was first seen on the Windows Phone 7 series of devices (see CBRs review of the Nokia Lumia 800 here). This interface sits on top of a more traditional Windows desktop.
It will be available in three versions, down from the ridiculous six versions of Windows 7 that shipped. The versions remain confusing, and may cause market fragmentation.
These include Windows RT, Windows 8 Standard and Windows 8 Pro. Windows RT is the bizarrely named ARM tablet only version, which cannot run legacy Windows software, and will come with a free version of Office. It will be available as a preinstall only.
Standard and Pro are the x86/64-bit versions of Windows 8, which are designed to run on traditional PCs. Neither will not come with free Office, but will be backwards compatible with Windows legacy software.
Microsoft has also previously announced that any users that buy Windows 7 between now and launch will be able to upgrade to Windows 8 for just £15.
All editions come with free cloud storage through Apple’s Skydrive, and Microsoft plans to have its new App Store up and running from day one. It has been aggressively pursuing developers to make up the difference between it and Google Play and Apple’s App Store.
The x86/64-bit versions have been available as a beta consumer preview since February, and have received mixed reviews concerning the combining of tablet-centric and PC-centric UI’s into a single OS, instead of separating the two as Apple and Google have done.
It will tie together Microsoft’s other key platforms, Windows Server 8 (see CBR’s Q&A here), the recently announced Windows Phone 8 and will interact with the company’s video game console-cum-media centre, the Xbox 360, through the company’s new smartglass technology.
Microsoft has also announced they are building their own Windows 8 hardware, the Microsoft Surface (running Windows RT) and the Surface Pro (running Windows 8 Pro) tablets.
Going by previous Microsoft commentary concerning product lifecycles, this means that Windows Phone 8 (and its devices) and the Microsoft Surface tablets should be available at launch, in time for the busy Christmas period.
Microsoft has previously taken heat for missing out on the smartphone revolution, tablets and cloud storage, its consumer divisions long propped up by its profitable enterprise divisions.
This article is from the CBROnline archive: some formatting and images may not be present.