Microsoft Targeting October Windows 8 Launch

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Microsoft plans to finish developing Windows 8 this summer, and hopes to release the new OS around October, according to reports by those with knowledge of the company's schedule.

An October release would target Christmas shoppers, and the new OS will work with desktop PCs and tablet devices, which would compete with Apple's new iPad. Michael Gartenberg, an analyst at Stamford, Connecticut-based Gartner Inc. points out that “if they (Microsoft) miss the September-October time frame, they’re going to be stuck without being able to ship anything in 2012 - The last thing Microsoft wants to have is a situation where there are no compelling Windows tablets at a time when the new iPad looks like it’s going to be a good seller for the holidays.”

Microsoft will likely hold a conference for industry partners in April, according to insiders, and will map out its release strategy for Windows 8, conveying a launch timeline and marketing details. According to Gartner, over 103 million tablet devices will be sold in 2012, with potential sales hitting roughly 326 million by 2015. Apple presently dominates the market, and Gartner estimates that it will account for 66% of all tablet sales in 2012 - though it is estimated that this number will drop to 46% by 2015, while Microsoft's share will climb to 11%.

Microsoft has been taking its time developing Windows 8, ensuring that it will run seamlessly on ARM processors, as well as the customary Intel chips - when Microsoft released a consumer preview of Windows 8, it was running on Intel processors. The company seeks to release an OS that runs on both Intel and ARM-based systems at launch. “Our collective goal is for them to ship at the same time - I wouldn’t be saying it’s a goal if I didn’t think we could do it,” says Steven Sinofsky, president of the Windows business.

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