Windows 8, Server 2012 Due in October

RTM in August foretells Fall availability of two key Microsoft products.

Windows 8 will be released to manufacturing (RTM) during the first week of August and is expected to be generally available in October.

Tami Reller, a Windows team senior executive, disclosed the timetable in her opening keynote of the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference this morning in Toronto.

Windows Server 2012 will also reach the RTM milestone at the same time, with general availability expected in September, Microsoft announced in a Windows Server blog post today.

Reller said new Windows 8 systems from OEMs would be available at general availability with more systems to follow, noting that Windows 8 will be available in 109 markets.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer introduced Reller's announcement with typical enthusiasm. "Windows 8 is simply the biggest deal from our company in 17 years," Ballmer said. He called Windows 8 a "huge opportunity, huge opportunity for our partners." Listing the opportunities, he pointed to ISVs (for apps in the Windows Store), solution providers (for system upgrades), and OEMs (for new hardware).

The dates highlight the channel conflict Microsoft recently introduced by announcing its own hardware for Windows 8, the Microsoft Surface. The version of the Surface for the ARM-based Windows RT operating system is expected to be available in October; the Surface for Windows 8 Pro is expected to ship 90 days later. The new GA schedule places the Windows 8 Pro version of Surface on the market in January, 2013.

Also at the conference of 16,000 partners, Microsoft highlighted OEM devices coming out for Windows 8; the company downplayed the Surface's sales potential.

Referring to forecasts that 375 million Windows PCs would be sold over the next 12 months, Ballmer said the Surface would only account for "a few million" of those. He said Microsoft has a mutual goal with OEM partners to bring a diversity of solutions to market.

"What we seek to have is a spectrum of stunning Windows devices, so every consumer can say I have the perfect PC for me," Ballmer said.

Reller demonstrated several OEM devices, beginning with an Acer Aspire S7 thin and light notebook with a 13-inch touch screen. She demonstrated very fast touch scrolling in Windows 8 on the device. Reller also showed ASUS convertibles, the Fujitsu Stylistic Q702, the HP Spectre XT Pro, the Lenovo A720, and the Lenovo Yoga. A Samsung Series 9 shown had no touchscreen but did sport a large touchpad that supported Windows 8 gestures.

In a move to keep Windows 7 sales going, Reller also announced that new buyers of Windows 7 will be eligible for a $14.99 upgrade to Windows 8 Pro.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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