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3/20/2012
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Windows 8 To Ship In October, Report Says

Microsoft’s radically redesigned operating system would be available in time for 2012 PC and tablet holiday shopping season.

Windows 8 Beta: Visual Tour
Windows 8 Beta: Visual Tour
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
Microsoft will finish work on its Windows 8 operating system this summer and make it available to computer makers for use on their products by October, according to a published report.

The report, by Bloomberg, cites unnamed individuals said to be familiar with Microsoft’s plans.

Most of the debut Windows 8 systems will be PCs and tablets that run on processors from Intel and AMD, both of which have been building chips that run Windows for years. Only a handful of the early systems will be tablets that run the Windows on Arm (WoA) version of Windows 8, which is optimized for use in mobile form factors.

That means Microsoft may want to highlight just a few WoA tablets for the holiday season, or it might mean that it’s taking longer than planned for the software maker to port Windows onto an architecture on which it’s never previously run. The company isn’t commenting.

[ Should you put a Windows 8 tablet on your holiday wish list? See Windows 8 Tablets For 2012 Holidays? ]

WoA tablets will run chips designed in part by UK-based ARM and made by Qualcomm, Texas Instruments, and Nvidia.

Bloomberg’s report comes just days after several enthusiast blogs said that Lenovo and Dell plan to be among the first hardware makers to ship Windows 8 systems. Hewlett-Packard and Dell are also expected to be early adopters.

Windows 8 needs to be widely available in time for the 2012 holiday season to keep Microsoft from falling even farther behind rivals like Apple, Google, and Amazon and its Kindle Fire tablet. Apple’s iPad held 54.7% of the media tablet market in the fourth quarter of 2011, while Google Android devices took 44.6%. Amazon held a 16.8% share, according to IDC. Microsoft was virtually a non-factor in the market.

Windows 8 represents the most radical redesign of Windows since Microsoft shipped Windows 95. Users on Intel-based systems will have the choice of working in the familiar Windows Explorer environment, or in the new touch-centric Metro interface. ARM tablets will run Metro exclusively and will not run applications written for previous versions of Windows.

To entice buyers, Microsoft has said that all ARM-based Windows 8 tablets will ship with a new touch-enabled version of Microsoft Office preinstalled. Microsoft shares were off 1.12%, to $31.84, in opening trading Tuesday.

Windows is currently a nobody in the tablet market. That could change with the release of Windows 8, the first version designed for touch screens and the tablet form factor. With the new Metro user interface, Microsoft will try to serve both tablet and desktop markets. Can it succeed? Find out at our Byte webcast, What Impact Will Windows 8 Have On The Tablet Market?. It happens March 14. (Free registration required.)

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