Is 2012 the year of Windows 8?
Microsoft is rumored to be gearing up to release its next operating system ahead of schedule
Microsoft may be planning a release of "Windows 8" by mid-2012, according to veteran Microsoft observer Mary-Jo Foley.
In addition, the community technology preview of Window 8 might be rolled out at Microsoft's next Professional Developers Conference, which is typically held in the fall of every year, although Microsoft has skipped it in the past. Foley expects the PDC will be scheduled in September of this year. These speculations are described in Foley's article, based on an ostensibly leaked slide.
The slide, which may or may not be authentic, was passed to Foley by an unnamed source. Microsoft has said nothing about the release dates of its next-generation Windows OS and would not confirm the slide's authenticity, indicating through a spokesperson that "Microsoft does not comment on rumors or speculation." Microsoft publicly calls its next-generation OS "Windows Next," although Foley's slide has "Windows 8" written on it.
Microsoft typically (but not always) rolls out its new operating systems every three years. Since the current Windows 7 OS was generally released in October 2009, an end-of-the-year release for Windows 8 in 2012 seems within reasonable historical expectations. Foley's prediction would put Windows 8 ahead of that schedule by a few months.
Microsoft has already discussed Windows Next integration with ARM-based system-on-chip hardware, a platform move that was announced at this year's Computer Electronics Show in January. A panel of Directions on Microsoft analysts, discussing the ARM integration, noted that Microsoft faces a back-to-school marketing schedule that begins in May, while the holiday selling season would begin in August.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said in October that the next generation of Windows would be the company's "riskiest product bet," without clarifying what he meant. Winrumors writer Tom Warren has suggested that Windows 8 might have greater integration with the cloud. Certainly, that approach was championed by former Microsoft Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie, at least in terms of syncing up data in the cloud with Windows-based devices, as already seen with Windows Live SkyDrive in conjunction with Office Web Apps.
Microsoft's latest cloud security move has been to support its U-Prove identity and security technology, while dropping its CardSpace 2.0 client ID authentication product. One of the main advantages of U-Prove, as described by Microsoft, is its use of the Internet cloud for authentication. Cloud trustworthiness in terms of security and privacy is still sometimes perceived as an obstacle to its general adoption.
Some Windows 8 features purportedly were leaked in July of last year, but that information was unconfirmed and may be inaccurate or old. The supposed Windows 8 features included power savings and speed improvements (such as instant sleep and faster wakeup times), facial recognition cameras, cloud-based identity (sounds like U-Prove), and a three-dimensional user interface, among others.