win8-schedule

As part of its 2012 Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) keynote address on Monday, Microsoft announced that it is “on track” to release Windows 8 to manufacturing in the first week of August. Furthermore, the software giant plans to make Windows 8 available to customers via new PC purchases and software upgrades “at the end of October.”

“The wait is almost over,” Microsoft Corporate Vice President Tami Reller said during the WPC keynote address. “Windows 8 will be available in 109 languages across 231 markets worldwide. This is unprecedented reach and opportunity for [Microsoft’s partners] and their customers.”

This newly revealed schedule is a bit later than expected, and later than Microsoft’s internal projections, which slate RTM (release to manufacturing) to occur by July 21 at the latest. As a result, the company was widely expected to make Windows 8 generally available in September, about a month earlier than the publicly announced schedule.

I still expect Microsoft to announce Windows 8 RTM before August, allowing it to “beat” its arbitrarily created schedule. But it’s unlikely the software giant would change its schedule for general availability, given the number of partners and retailers involved.

Microsoft also revealed that, as usual, its enterprise customers would gain early access to the “complete” Windows 8 “bits,” in this case “as early as August,” or shortly after the product RTMs. Microsoft didn’t announce when its MSDN or TechNet subscribers would gain access to Windows 8, but this availability usually occurs shortly after the release to enterprises.

In related news, Microsoft also announced that Windows 7 has sold 630 million licenses since its release in October 2009. The current Windows version is installed on over half of all enterprise desktops, Microsoft says.