Microsoft’s next operating system — provisionally known as Windows 8 — may not hit the shelves until early 2013, one respected company-watcher thinks, giving Apple, Google and Amazon more time to fine-tune their tablet offerings.
That’s later than most people expect for the new OS, which represents Microsoft’s first real foray into the touch-friendly, tablet-optimized world. The feeling is that Microsoft really needs to make its move before Apple’s iPad and tablets running Google’s Android march off with the whole market.
“I think it’s about a year away,” said Michael Cherry at independent research firm Directions on Microsoft, asked when Windows 8 code would be completed.
Then you have to factor in the delay between releasing the code to PC manufacturers to install on new machines — known as RTM — and general availability, said Cherry, a former Windows program manager.
“I believe there will be a RTM somewhere in the last quarter of 2012. Traditionally there’s been a 90-day gap between RTM and general availability,” he said. “To me, that means machine availability in 2013.”