Industry consensus has been that Microsoft would release Windows 8 in October, a launch that has now been confirmed. At its Worldwide Partners Conference in Toronto Microsoft announced that both Windows 8 and the ARM-focused spinoff Windows RT are on schedule to hit the important RTM (Release to Manufacture) milestone in the first week of August.
This then begins a process of dissemination and disc manufacture that should end up with copies of the Operating System hitting the market in October. It is important to keep in mind that this is more of a launch window than a hard launch date, and Microsoft has been quite general, stating that the OS will reach ‘wide availability’ by the end of October. This likely means we will see PCs shipping with the OS throughout October, but it doesn’t clarify when retail boxes and upgrades will be available.
If Microsoft follows its usual pattern, the full release version of the OS should be available via MSDN (Microsoft Developer’s Network) sometime in August. This has been reinforced by the news that the company will be turning on the Windows Store when RTM happens, which means developers will be able to start selling Apps well before hardware hits the shelves.
What the announcement didn’t include was any information on the timing of the Windows Phone 8 launch, nor did it indicate just when Microsoft’s Surface tablet will start shipping (although a story on Digitimes indicates Microsoft has been struggling with yields of its Magnesium chassis, which will likely mean that supply will initially be limited).
It isn’t just Microsoft that is in the process of launching a new version of its OS though. News has also emerged that the ‘Gold Master’ (Apple’s equivalent of RTM) version of Apple’s OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion has been supplied to developers, which means that it is ready for primetime. This should mean that Mac users will be able to get their hands on the release version by the end of the month.