One of the major keys to Windows 7's great
success and massive rebound from the disappointment
of Vista was the incredibly
popular public beta test program that launched at the Consumer
Electronics Show in January 2009. Two years later Microsoft is well on
the way to releasing
the successor to the popular Windows 7, Windows 8, and it's reportedly preparing
for a new beta program.
Softpedia reported last week
that it received "Windows 8 Build 6.2.7959.0 Milestone 3 (M3)", an
important preliminary build. Compiled March 7, 2011 (based on the name
string of the full build of the release), if authentic the build indicates that
Microsoft Corp. (MSFT)
is closing in on Build 8000 -- typically the build at which it launches a beta.
to CentrumXP, developers now have access to
"Build 6.2.7996.0.winmain_win8m3.110429-181" in the winmain_win8m3
branch. The number in its build string (110429) indicates a release date
of April 29, 2011.
That means that by now the Build 8000 may be
compiled and almost ready to go. It still remains to be seen, though, if
the rumors are true and this is a beta build.
One thing that calls that theory into question is
the rumor that Microsoft will be working on Milestone 3 from February to July.
A finished build in May is way ahead of that schedule and doesn't quite
According to rumors and leaks, Microsoft will wrap
up Milestone 3, move on to a single beta, and finally air a release
candidate before a commercial launch in late 2012/early 2013.
Microsoft appears to be transitioning to a
slightly faster release cycle, similar to what Apple does with OS X.
Whether that shorter release cycle will be accompanied by lower upgrade
pricing remains to be seen.
The company is expected to possibly release the
beta code to the broader developer community (only select developers have the
current Milestone builds), and possibly announce a public beta at
the Professional Developers Conference 2011 (PDC 2011) September 13–16,
2011, in Anaheim, California.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer bills Windows 8 as his
company's "riskiest product". A preview that leaked about a
month back showed a GUI similar to Windows 7, but with Microsoft
Office's Ribbon inserted
in new locations like the Windows Explorer. Builds have also been seen
running on ARM CPUs, which look to begin displacing Intel Corp. (INTC)
and Advanced Micro Devices, Inc.'s (AMD)
x86 designs in mobile computers and servers over the next several years.