Last I heard
, Microsoft’s goal with Windows 8 was to release to manufacturing (RTM) its next Windows release around Q2/Q3 2012, after two beta releases, plus various preview/RC drops. I’d also heard that the plan was to RTM Windows 8 for x86, Windows 8 for ARM/SoC (system on a chip) and Windows 8 Server all at the same time.
I’m now hearing there’s a different timetable for Windows 8. I’ve received new information from a trusted source that Microsoft is actually on track to release to manufacturing all Windows 8 versions by April 2012.
I’ve also heard from my contact that Microsoft’s game plan is to deliver a beta
build– not a pre-beta or preview — of Windows 8 around the time of the Build conference in mid-September
. This allegedly will be the one and only Windows 8 beta, my contact said. In January 2012 or thereabouts, Microsoft will deliver a final Release Candidate (RC) test build of Windows 8, my source said. (I’m now thinking that January release is the one that leaked a while back from Dell
.) And the next and final milestone after RC will be RTM.
There are a few things to keep in mind here. So far, the Windows 8 team at Microsoft has said nothing about where it’s at on its road to RTM. (Thanks to various leaks, we know they’ve basically finished the internal Milestone 3 build.) The only thing the Windows 8 leaders have offered, guidance-wise, is that Microsoft expects to deliver the final version of Windows 8 24-36 months after Windows 7
. It was never clear whether the Windows brass meant two/three years after Windows 7 RTM’d or shipped, and they never clarified. (Windows 7 RTM’d in July 2009
and “launched” in October 2009.)
We also know from previous Office and Windows disclosure patterns that if/when the team does offer a target delivery date, there will likely be several months of padding built in
to make sure there will be no publicly measurable slippage. As a result, I’m betting that summer 2012 RTM target we originally heard about might have included that padding, giving more credence to a real internal April 2012 RTM date.
That’s all I know, at this point. April sounds better than July, especially for partners and customers trying to hold out for Microsoft to deliver an operating system that will be optimized touch tablets. And if the April 2012 RTM target turns out to be reality, there will be no question about Microsoft and its OEMs being able to deliver Windows 8 PCs and tablets in time for holiday 2012. Heck, they’ll likely be ready for the back-to-school market, as well.