Microsoft will launch a Windows 8 release preview of its next generation operating system in early June. The announcement was made on Tuesday by Stephen Sinofsky -- the president of Microsoft's Windows division -- at the Windows Developer Days conference in Japan.
Microsoft's release schedule for Windows 7 began with the launch of the W7 developer's preview on October 28, 2008. Then in 2009, Microsoft rolled out the W7 public beta, release candidate (RC), and release to manufacturing (RTM) versions on Jan. 7, April 30 and Oct. 22, respectively.
This time around, Microsoft has changed the designations for its incremental W8 OS releases to developer (Sept. 13, 2011), consumer (Feb. 29, 2012) and preview (early June).
"Barring any major issues, an early June roll out of a release candidate caliber version of W8 is in fact earlier" than many industry observers had expected, said Al Hilwa, director of applications software development at IDC.
The W8 release preview will arrive in plenty of time for manufacturers to have W8 devices "out in the fall well ahead of the holiday buying season," Hilwa said. "Shipping early means an even bigger variety of devices by the holidays."
A New Mobile Platform
When we asked Hilwa what the impact would be of each subsequent W8 release on third-party app developers and service operators, he said he does expect independent software vendors to begin to take more notice of each new W8 release -- and with some ISVs already showing visible interest in W8 because they view it as a new mobile platform.
"Traditional PC ISVs will likely start to take notice with the June release," Hilwa said. "Business ISVs will likely be the last to come and will likely add modules for their apps around business-to-consumer functionality."
With its new cross-over capability to run on media tablets and other computing devices equipped with ARM-based processors, however, Windows 8 may present Microsoft with more challenges to have a final release-to-manufacturing version ready for an October rollout to tablet makers as well as PC manufacturers. The good news for Microsoft, however, is that the new OS will radically expand the sheer number of platforms on which W8 can run. (continued...)