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Windows 8, Microsoft's upcoming successor to Windows 7, will launch in 2012 according to a leak from Microsoft Netherlands.  (Source: Oxenti)

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer insists that Windows 8 is his company's riskiest product, riskier even that its smart phone efforts. He would not say why, though.  (Source: Associated Press)
Microsoft tries to follow up its fastest selling operating system of all time

Windows 7 still has a ways to become the world's best selling operating system of all time, but it has already earned the distinction of being the fastest selling operating system ever.  That's a tough act to follow for Microsoft which is looking forward to its next operating system, even as it works on new Windows 7 updates and finishes phasing out Windows XP (which coincidentally was the best-selling OS of all time).

Some news has leaked out about the new operating system, which is rumored to be dubbed "Windows 8".  The first piece of news comes courtesy of Microsoft Netherlands, which posted the following announcement (translated using Google):

The phasing out of Windows XP, Microsoft is nearing completion. In July 2010, the support for Windows XP with Service Pack 2 stops. Today Microsoft will stop selling Windows XP to PC manufacturers and the aftermarket sales of Windows Vista. For Windows 7, Microsoft Service Pack 1. This service pack is still in the testing phase and is expected in the first half of next year available.The first update of Windows 7 is the new version of Windows Live Essentials ( became available in mid-June.  Furthermore, Microsoft is of course the next version of Windows. But it will take about two years before "Windows 8 on the market. The latest news about Windows is available at / blog 

The bolded sentence, according to Microsoft blog Windows 8 Beta, was in the article.  Microsoft appears to have swiftly removed it, and visiting the article on Monday, that sentence was no longer there.

A launch two years from now would place Windows 8 as launching in 2012.  Previously it was rumored that the operating system could launch as early as next year (2011).  It is still possible that Microsoft might get to testing the upcoming OS during next year.  And it's also possible that unintentional release of information was inaccurate.

More reliable, but more puzzling were comments by Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer on Windows 8.  Speaking to reporters at the Gartner Symposium, the outspoken executive reportedly called the upcoming OS the "riskiest" upcoming product from his company.  He failed to elaborate on what he meant by that.

It's pretty hard to believe that the upcoming OS could be riskier than Windows Phone 7, which follows up a poor showing in recent years by Windows Mobile 6/6.5.

One possibility could be a switch to a cloud-based operating system.  Microsoft has dabbled in cloud OS's with its Azure OS.  And Google's first personal computer operating system, Chrome OS, set to debut late this year or early next is a cloud-based OS as well.  Another possibility is perhaps an effort to consolidate software viability via a Windows Software Store (or something of that nature).  Apple made a similar move with its announcement that the App Store would soon vend Mac apps.

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Windows 8 "Risky"
By Brandon Hill on 10/25/2010 10:35:24 AM , Rating: 4
For Windows 8, I'm guessing 64-bit processor REQUIRED, with multi-core required be the next possible step. They also need to push out that new file system that they were hoping to introduce with Vista (WinFS is what it was called I think).

I also hope that they cut down on the number of SKUs and make it like Windows XP in the beginning: Home and Professional.

RE: Windows 8 "Risky"
By UnWeave on 10/25/2010 10:48:06 AM , Rating: 2
Wouldn't be entirely surprised by the 64-bit move, although I don't know that it's entirely necessary. But, and I may be wrong on this, I thought WinFS had been completely canned?

Guess they might still be working on it, but if they basically had to start from scratch again... I mean, a decent FS takes a long time to develop.

RE: Windows 8 "Risky"
By Homerboy on 10/25/2010 10:50:59 AM , Rating: 2
There will be a strong emphasis on an AppsStore too.

RE: Windows 8 "Risky"
By Souka on 10/25/2010 12:29:13 PM , Rating: 2

I hope they don't release it in 2012! Didn't they see he movie!

RE: Windows 8 "Risky"
By Belard on 10/25/2010 12:52:45 PM , Rating: 4

*IF* It doesn't come out, it means 2012 happens and we all die.

If it does come out, MS makes money and we all live.

RE: Windows 8 "Risky"
By Ammohunt on 10/25/2010 3:36:45 PM , Rating: 2
Thats why i am going to get my copy early so i can enjoy it as long as possible during that year.

RE: Windows 8 "Risky"
By Donkeyshins on 10/25/2010 1:51:56 PM , Rating: 2
Evidently 2012 Mayan Calendar researchers were not able to count:

RE: Windows 8 "Risky"
By Farfignewton on 10/25/2010 3:31:55 PM , Rating: 5
So the Mayan calender ends in 2012. Big. Deal.

Many people throw out a calender from a far more advanced civilization every January 1st.

RE: Windows 8 "Risky"
By B3an on 10/25/2010 3:24:40 PM , Rating: 4
It's funny, people want WinFS, but they dont even know why. And they dont realise that even Vista can do many of things WinFS was meant to.
It was never meant to replace NTFS either, as many believe.
WinFS was buggy as **** and going nowhere, MS realised this and done the right thin in cancelling it.

I suggest anyone who actually still thinks WinFS was a good idea should read this:

RE: Windows 8 "Risky"
By ekv on 10/25/2010 8:11:03 PM , Rating: 2
cool link.

WinFS was designed as a fancy-shmancy overlay for NTFS. Using SQL. There are several good links from Bott's article. WinFS was "reorganized", and appears to be part of Microsoft Sync Framework, which, in conjunction with SQL Azure sync, will introduce the "personal cloud." [Side note: Microsoft Groove, Ray Ozzie's brainchild, is part of this scene].

Interesting. But I still get the feeling that MSFT is playing catch-up. Like they're developing stuff and are trying to figure out their market after the s/w is developed?

Meanwhile, you have products like ZFS, developed by Sun (now a part of Oracle), which actually has a huge performance-based reason for existing. Why not license ZFS, tweak it, create a dozen server SKU's and push it out the door?

But then MSFT cancels minWin? strange.

RE: Windows 8 "Risky"
By borismkv on 10/25/2010 10:52:29 AM , Rating: 3
EUFI requirement is going to be the real big kicker. Right now only Motherboards for Intel CPUs offer it, and distribution is still limited on those. Kicking a 30 year old standard to the curb is going to be painful to say the least. Most of the people who try to upgrade to 8 are going to be pissed when it straight up won't install on their computers. The OEM industry is going to love it, though. More computer sales.

RE: Windows 8 "Risky"
By TinyTeeth on 10/25/2010 10:56:37 AM , Rating: 2
And the motherboard industry. At some point standards have to be jammed through and I guess Microsoft can't be held completely at fault for that.

RE: Windows 8 "Risky"
By jebo on 10/25/2010 1:54:31 PM , Rating: 3
I agree that UEFI would ripple the waters. So much so, in fact, that I doubt Microsoft will follow through with the requirement. I bet that requirement gets dumped before release.

RE: Windows 8 "Risky"
By Silver2k7 on 10/25/2010 2:16:52 PM , Rating: 3
UEFI requirement would perhaps be interpreted as risky.. 64-bit not so much, since more or less every CPU these days are 64-bit.

But still UEFI will force 64-bit to become the standard (since there are no 32-bit UEFI), wich right now becomes a neccesity either way, so its a good thing if this happends.

With 4GB memory modules finally starting to fall in price, 8GB could very well be the standard in 2012.. then 32-bit would not be useful any longer, also rember that any larger than 2.2GB harddrive will also need 64-bit.. so 32-bit is limping along on its last legs right about now..

RE: Windows 8 "Risky"
By Silver2k7 on 10/25/2010 2:21:54 PM , Rating: 2
thats larger 2.2TB harddrives that will need 64-bit.

also right now there are workstation video cards with 6GB VRAM.. so I would not be surprised to see 2-3GB gaming cards in 2012.. then you have atleast 10GB of memory RAM+VRAM and have surpassed the 32-bit 4GB limit by far.

Getting rid of the 20years+ old BIOS and replacing it with UEFI wich will also make the computers boot faster, I don't know why anyone would not like that.

RE: Windows 8 "Risky"
By Silver2k7 on 10/25/2010 2:25:17 PM , Rating: 2
ps. you don't need to buy Win8 to get an OS for your UEFI motherboard, it also works with Vista SP1 and Win7. ds.

RE: Windows 8 "Risky"
By FITCamaro on 10/25/2010 3:10:58 PM , Rating: 2
I've already got 10GB of memory + VRAM. :)

RE: Windows 8 "Risky"
By sorry dog on 10/25/2010 8:54:38 PM , Rating: 3
My Honda Civic has 550 whp and can beat a ZR1 on a roll :)

RE: Windows 8 "Risky"
By Silver2k7 on 10/26/2010 4:10:37 AM , Rating: 2
good for you, I just meant that it will likly be the standard in 2012, and there will be no place at all for 32-bit in new systems.. so UEFI isn't really as risky as it might sound by then.

RE: Windows 8 "Risky"
By Lugaidster on 10/27/2010 11:39:19 AM , Rating: 2
You should really try to understand what you are writing before you do.

First, CPU's don't address VRAM directly, so to handle a 6GiB VRAM card, a 64-bit CPU is not needed.

Also, the 2TiB restriction on HDDs is completely unrelated. You can't boot from a partition larger than that because of BIOS and LBA addressing limitations. But to fix that you just need a motherboard controller with 64-bit addressing, a partition table that supports 64-bit addressing and something like UEFI to be able to read that partition table. You can have a non-bootable 3TiB filled with information and it would still be accessible in a 32-bit OS.

Neither problem requires a 64-bit CPU to be solved (directly at least, UEFI might require them but UEFI isn't the only way to solve those issues), otherwise the move would've been made a long time ago.

The only real restriction a 32-bit OS has is in RAM addressing. Programs in a 32-bit OS can't use more than 4GiB even if it has PAE activated. Given that today more and more systems are shipping with at least that kind of memory, the transition makes sense. Specially with more and more demanding apps and games appearing.

Please, don't spread FUD.

RE: Windows 8 "Risky"
By SlyNine on 10/28/2010 5:31:55 PM , Rating: 2
All he was saying was 10GiB of ram will become standard, so there is no need for 32bit CPUs. Also without a 64bit CPU how are you going to run UEFI, which is needed to boot to larger then 2.2TB HDD's

In fact you have suggested that there is a solution to the problem, but then contradicted yourself by saying UEFI is needed. If 64bit CPUs are needed for UEIF, and UEIF is what solves the problem, then 64bit CPUs are still a requirment.

RE: Windows 8 "Risky"
By Danish1 on 10/26/2010 1:21:23 AM , Rating: 2
Launching an OS which won't install on the vast majority of existing PC's is not risky, it's nothing short of retarded.

RE: Windows 8 "Risky"
By Silver2k7 on 10/26/2010 4:16:13 AM , Rating: 2
I think its pretty safe to say that the majority of PC's in the 2nd half of 2012 will all be UEFI..

With the first boards launching towards the end of 2010.. and hopefully the majority of new boards in 2011 will have it. It would be stupid to wait any longer to release UEFI boards.

RE: Windows 8 "Risky"
By Danish1 on 10/26/2010 7:50:35 PM , Rating: 3
If you really think the average PC is about one year old then I got some sand in Sahara to sell you.

Try 5 years.

RE: Windows 8 "Risky"
By MozeeToby on 10/25/10, Rating: -1
RE: Windows 8 "Risky"
By Copaseticbob on 10/25/2010 11:03:53 AM , Rating: 2
Current gen dual-core atoms support 64-bit, by 2012 i'm sure we'll see it as a standard.

RE: Windows 8 "Risky"
By jonmcc33 on 10/25/2010 9:35:24 PM , Rating: 2
Dual-core Atoms do exist but only on nettops. There's too much power draw on most netbooks. I haven't seen them in big numbers for netbooks.

RE: Windows 8 "Risky"
By SlyNine on 10/28/2010 5:39:55 PM , Rating: 2
Agian 2010 now, 2012 then, full adoption 2013-2014.

RE: Windows 8 "Risky"
By tastyratz on 10/25/2010 11:46:36 AM , Rating: 2
In 2 more years a "net book" will be a machine with the power of todays standard notebook most likely. I wouldn't be surprised if it went all 64 bit anyways purely due to a minimum ram of "only 4gb" on all machines sold period. Microsoft will probably capitalize on that and continue to increase ram utilization.

Also ms wont cut their losses, they will release a product and we will adapt to adopt. XP sales to oem terminating and support phasing out means it will have a much lower install base. New netbooks wont have xp so then it will be 7 or 8.
Lets face it, like it or not I will believe it when I see it for any other OS to gain a significant enough marketshare to be a viable alternative.

RE: Windows 8 "Risky"
By Flunk on 10/25/2010 11:01:35 AM , Rating: 3
WinFS was cancelled because the idea is impractical. I do expect they will bring in a new file system eventually, just not one so dependent on SQL server.

RE: Windows 8 "Risky"
By Motoman on 10/25/2010 11:03:27 AM , Rating: 3
I think the "riskiest" bit is likely going to be trying to come up with some compelling reason for people to upgrade...again.

RE: Windows 8 "Risky"
By Spuke on 10/25/2010 11:17:34 AM , Rating: 2
I think the "riskiest" bit is likely going to be trying to come up with some compelling reason for people to upgrade...again.
A new file system, UEFI, and 64 bit only would be enough for me.

RE: Windows 8 "Risky"
By Luticus on 10/25/2010 11:21:50 AM , Rating: 2
Depending on the features i'd upgrade pretty easily. I'm looking to build a new machine with in the next couple of years anyway so an upgrade for me would go hand-in-hand

RE: Windows 8 "Risky"
By Suntan on 10/25/2010 11:35:02 AM , Rating: 4
Depending on the features i'd upgrade pretty easily. I'm looking to build a new machine with in the next couple of years anyway so an upgrade for me would go hand-in-hand

Well, if you are building a *new* computer, then you aren’t really “upgrading” the OS.

The issue with Vista was that few people saw the need to “upgrade” the XP OS on an existing computer. (Which I happen to think will be an issue for whatever OS comes out in the next couple of years too.)

Also, just FYI, a person that builds a new computer every 2-3 years... That’s not normal. Most people don’t need a new computer every other year to run Quicken and check Facebook.


RE: Windows 8 "Risky"
By Boze on 10/25/2010 12:16:37 PM , Rating: 2
Dunno why you got rated down for this... you couldn't be more correct.

I, for one, am holding off on building a new machine until UEFI is available for both Intel and AMD motherboards. Its time that BIOS was retired; a 30 year run is nothing to be ashamed of in the computing world.

RE: Windows 8 "Risky"
By AlexWade on 10/26/2010 7:44:13 AM , Rating: 2
People are probably right about UEFI support in Windows 8. Microsoft has already stated they want a faster boot in Windows 8. Neither BIOS or EFI can offer that. The reason why EFI never took off was because it had no real world advantages over BIOS but was more complex. UEFI does have real world advantages over BIOS, so it will gain support.

RE: Windows 8 "Risky"
By Luticus on 10/25/2010 2:07:38 PM , Rating: 4
FYI, i'm not building a new computer everyone 1 - 2 years (well main computer anyway). If i build my new machine in 2012 that will make my main system about 5 years old (plenty old enough to warrant an upgrade/rebuild)

because i have windows 7 now and i'd be going to windows "8" i'd consider it an upgrade for myself... just because it's on a new machine doesn't mean i'm not using a new os. And, FYI i'd put every system i have at my house on 8 if the feature set is good enough to make me want to.

I realize and understand that i can be an exception to the rule sometimes because my computer habits aren't what one would consider "typical" but i don't think my comment was out of line and i certainly think that a good number of people will be taking a similar approach.

computer equipment keeps getting less and less expensive all the time, i think that a rebuild isn't a stretch… and who says a rebuild won't involve recycled parts from my old machine anyway? It usually does...

RE: Windows 8 "Risky"
By Silver2k7 on 10/26/2010 4:20:38 AM , Rating: 3
When I bought Vista SP1 I really wanted an UEFI motherboard to go with that build.. but they where not avalible..

the next upgrade I won't settle for a BIOS board..
so bring on the UEFI boards ^^

RE: Windows 8 "Risky"
By Wolfpup on 10/25/2010 11:37:11 AM , Rating: 2
I hope you're right and the risky is just 64-bit and/or multi-core required...since you should be running a 64-bit multi-core CPU by the time you got Vista, so who cares (Atom systems aside).

I'm worried it could be something stupid though-this cloud garbage or whatever. *sigh*

RE: Windows 8 "Risky"
By ctodd on 10/25/2010 11:51:07 AM , Rating: 3
Add improved multi-touch screen support for slate pcs. It probably has a lot to do with slate pcs and cloud computing. I doubt the whole thing will require continuous internet connectivity since that is near impossible. But, when selling slate pcs with integrated 3G/4G then it is very possible.

RE: Windows 8 "Risky"
By gamerk2 on 10/25/2010 12:29:56 PM , Rating: 3
Be VERY careful requiring multi-cores; with new technology in the works (Quantum computing), you don't want to start a situation where a very fast single CPU is faster, but not supported, forcing the devs to re-work the OS from scratch...

Besides, from a technical standpoint, its better to leave distribution among multiple cores up to the OS scheduler, instead of forcing it on programmers.

RE: Windows 8 "Risky"
By 2uantuM on 10/25/2010 1:15:45 PM , Rating: 2
quantum computing is at least a decade away.

RE: Windows 8 "Risky"
By Mojo the Monkey on 10/25/2010 5:14:08 PM , Rating: 2
thats what they said a decade ago. =P

RE: Windows 8 "Risky"
By Lugaidster on 10/27/2010 11:51:03 AM , Rating: 2
Do note the "at least". With no feasible way to do even a ENIACC sized quantum computer able to do what a 386 did 25 years ago I'd say "at least a decade" is an understatement. I don't see a Windows running on a quantum computer for at least 20 years.

RE: Windows 8 "Risky"
By phatboye on 10/25/2010 1:17:03 PM , Rating: 2
What's the riskiest thing MS could change to Windows?

Subscription based/Usage based licenses. And it looks like that could very well be possible in the future, esp with MS starting to push online services like Office Live and Cloud based OSes like Azure.

RE: Windows 8 "Risky"
By Silver2k7 on 10/26/2010 4:25:28 AM , Rating: 2
64-bit only and a UEFI motherboard requirement.

the only risky thing about that in 2012, is that people can't buy the new OS for an old machine.. but by 2011 hopefully most motherboards will start ship with UEFI.

RE: Windows 8 "Risky"
By arazok on 10/25/2010 3:16:54 PM , Rating: 2
I believe they are rewriting large parts of the OS with managed code. I would think this is a ‘risky’ move as it may break compatibility with older apps. Could be Vista all over again.

RE: Windows 8 "Risky"
By haukionkannel on 10/25/2010 4:25:56 PM , Rating: 2
Well it seems that most people in here forget the "corporate" users. For them pure 64-bit OS, the lack of support for old legasy devices and UEFI can be reall reasons not to upgrade to win8.
To normal home user, the sooner we get cleaner OS, the better. For most users at least.
To corporates, and other big departments the support for old hardware and software is much more important. If MS make "too many" upgrades to OS, the MS may lose some of it's best paying customers...

Coverment, companies and so on big corporates may move to win7 (32 or 64 bit), when they have to... and leave win 8 totally, untill they have to upgrade again (when the support for win 7 is nearing the end...) It may be the risk that Ballmer is referring.

RE: Windows 8 "Risky"
By jonmcc33 on 10/25/2010 9:30:45 PM , Rating: 2
You must be dreaming.

1. No on the 64-bit version only. That will happen in maybe 10 years.
2. Multi-core required sort of rules out the Intel Atom and netbook business. While it is Hyperthreaded, that isn't "multi-core".
3. NTFS works and provides a lot of backwards compatibility. There are media players that support NTFS.
4. The number of SKUs won't drop either.

RE: Windows 8 "Risky"
By Silver2k7 on 10/26/2010 4:36:56 AM , Rating: 2
"You must be dreaming.
No on the 64-bit version only. That will happen in maybe 10 years."

LoL MS has chosed not to do this 2 times with Vista and 7.
But right now 64-bit is more necessary than ever.

32 bit limits:
you got the 4GB limit, so only totally 4GB of adress space avalible, so you can't have more RAM+VRAM and other caches etc exceed 4GB totally. That is very weak today when 4GB RAM should be standard.. also there are showing up a few gaming cards with 2GB VRAM. The 4GB limit will be more than useless in 2012. Dream on if you don't think dropping 32-bit is already a necessity.

Then there is the limit of large harddrives of 2.19TB... there have already been 2.5TB & 3TB released. You don't think there will be other larger models in 2012 ??

Your saying that 32-bit won't be dropped for another 10 years.. sorry pal but your the one who's dreaming now.

RE: Windows 8 "Risky"
By Lugaidster on 10/27/2010 12:18:03 PM , Rating: 2
Please, I must insist. Stop the FUD. Neither VRAM nor HDDs are addressed directly by the CPU. It doesn't need 64-bits to address them. The CPU only addresses RAM and needs 64-bits to address more than 4GiB of virtual memory.

VRAM is addressed by the GPU, HDD is addressed by the SATA controller.

RE: Windows 8 "Risky"
By SlyNine on 10/28/2010 5:50:20 PM , Rating: 2
Actually Vram does effect system ram, depending on how it's used. "As we have mentioned in previous articles, most modern system running in 32bit x86 mode have trouble seeing and using more than roughly 3GB of memory. This is because part of the total 4GB of memory space (not the physical memory) is reserved for various functions, such as computer components transferring data between each other using memory-mapped input-output(MMIO). The textbook example of this is the CPU transferring data to the memory of a video card, where a chunk of the address space equal to the size of the memory of the video card is reserved by the video card, and any data sent to those addresses actually ends up going to the video card. This design has many technical merits, but it makes the consumed memory addresses unavailable for use with physical memory." Anandtech.

RE: Windows 8 "Risky"
By SlyNine on 10/28/2010 5:55:56 PM , Rating: 2
It is important for you to note, You can have larger drives, The limit comes when booting to that drive.

RE: Windows 8 "Risky"
By AlexWade on 10/26/2010 8:16:11 AM , Rating: 2
Actually, I remember reading (but I don't have the link) that Windows 8 was to be 64-bit only.

RE: Windows 8 "Risky"
By sleepeeg3 on 10/26/2010 2:06:16 AM , Rating: 2
Windows 8 risk:
Sitting on a $50B pile of cash and there only fallback is to sell... more copies of Windows 7, because they have no real competitors.

That's risky! LOL!

Brandon you are probably right about everything except the last. If anything, there will be more SKUs. Market differentiation means they hit more price points and confuse the h3ll out of consumers. It works for intel, nVidia and AMD, after all.

"Nowadays, security guys break the Mac every single day. Every single day, they come out with a total exploit, your machine can be taken over totally. I dare anybody to do that once a month on the Windows machine." -- Bill Gates

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