A "beta" of Windows 8 is expected to launch in September or October; the retail version is expected to launch approximately a year later.
New operating system is company's "riskiest" yet

Sporting a Metro-UI inspired makeover, support for ARM architecture CPUs, and putting Ribbons in places that some people might not be ready for (e.g. Windows Explorer), Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) upcoming Windows 8 is the software giant's "riskiest product", according to Chief Executive Steve Ballmer.

At a promotional event for September's BUILD conference, Microsoft's Corporate Vice President Dan'l Lewin let the company's purported launch schedule slip.  He said that a beta would land soon after the conference and the OS would go through a year of tune-up testing before being officially launched in September/October 2012.

That launch date "makes sense" as it's in line with most past Windows launches, which typically came in the Fall.

Windows 8 will follow the best-selling Windows 7 operating system, which launched in Oct. 2009.  Its development cycle will last approximately three years -- about the same as that of Windows 7, which replaced the Jan. 2007 launched Vista. (It is worth noting that Vista took approximately five years to develop.)

Mr. Lewin defended Microsoft's decision to use Windows 8 for tablets, rather than the Windows Phone operating system.  He said the decision will enhance enterprise security.  And he argues putting a smart phone operating system on a tablet amounts to "compromising" the user experience -- he says users want PC features in their tablets.

“So far we have not seen a single Android device that does not infringe on our patents." -- Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith

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