Analyst: Windows 8 Coming in 2013

According to one Directions on Microsoft analyst, Windows 8 -- or whatever Microsoft calls its next operating system -- might be released in 2013.

As part of a briefing on Thursday, analyst Michael Cherry speculated on Microsoft's future Windows roadmap. He said that OEMs and ISVs already have early builds of Windows 8, and that the general public might get a first glimpse of the Windows 8 code as early as September, at Microsoft's Professional Developers Conference. (Though the venue for this year's PDC has not yet been announced, Seattle is rumored.)

Cherry's talk focused on Service Pack 1 (SP1) for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2, which Microsoft released in February. The talk also touched on associated topics of interest to IT pros, including Internet Explorer 9, using Remote Desktop Services (RDS) and migrating from Windows XP.

Windows 8 in 2013?
Possibly, we may see Windows 8 for x86 and x64 hardware, as well as system-on-chip (SoC) components, by 2013 or beyond, Cherry speculated. The SoC development may enable low battery power consumption for Windows-based devices, such as are available now with the new Apple iPads. Cherry didn't claim to have inside information on the 2013 date, so it is unconfirmed.

Cherry also noted that Microsoft has only disclosed the existence of a "Windows Next" client operating system, as announced at the CES show in January. The company hasn't used the "Windows 8" term. At CES, Microsoft announced a future Windows for ARM-based SoC processors; it also announced that Intel and AMD were working on x86 SoC architectures for the new OS.

He also speculated about a 2013 release for an x64-based "Windows Server 2012" operating system, which similarly hasn't been named or announced by Microsoft. Windows client and server operating systems now share the same code base, ever since Vista's release. Consequently, new releases of both client and server Windows OSes might be expected to appear on the market at roughly the same time.

The possibility that ARM-based Windows Server products might eventually emerge wasn't discounted by Cherry. However, he noted that nothing's been announced by Microsoft.

New embedded OSes from Microsoft may similarly be released in 2013. Possibly, "Windows Embedded Standard 8" for x86 hardware and "Windows Embedded Compact 8" for ARM will be seen in that timeframe, Cherry said. Also expected then will be "Windows Phone 8" for ARM-based devices. Once again, these names and the timeframe are speculative since Microsoft has made no announcements.

Cherry acknowledged the excitement around Windows 8, especially with the purportedly leaked screenshots found on the Web showing new features. However, he advised clients not to make plans based on them, even if true, since Microsoft tends to chop features by product release time. He cautioned against running leaked builds of Windows 8 because they might turn out to be malware distribution vehicles.

Service Pack 1 Features
SP1 for Window 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 includes two virtualization features: "dynamic memory" and RemoteFX. With dynamic memory, IT pros can set the minimum amount of physical memory for each virtual machine. The result is the ability to run "substantially more virtual machines on the same hardware," Cherry said.

RemoteFX allows improved graphics performance when using RDS and virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). The rendering of graphics in an application is done via a graphics processing unit on the remote server and then sent to the end user, Cherry explained. It allows the use of thin clients to access the program remotely. The rendering and compression of graphics images is handled more efficiently with RemoteFX because the server handles only the information that's changed.

Cherry said he was a "big fan of RDS." Those considering using thin clients with RDS and VDI can use a "good tool" from Microsoft called the "Windows Automated Installation Kit" (WAIK). It can help IT pros track some potential issues with using thin client hardware. He cautioned that Microsoft offers a "pretty complex infrastructure for VDI." He recommended a chart on VDI and RDS technologies produced by Directions on Microsoft to get an idea.

WAIK can also be used to help plan Windows 7 migrations. It creates an inventory of existing machines in a computing environment that are capable of running that OS. IT pros can also use this tool to set home pages to particular browser versions, he said.

Cherry described the level of support for XP as "extremely minimal" and suggested that an upgrade to Windows 7 should be a concern of IT pros. He had favorable comments about IE 9, Microsoft's newest Web browser, which runs on Vista and Windows 7. IE 9 has a faster JavaScript engine, standards support, ActiveX filtering and a do-not-track feature. The do-not-track feature blocks third-party advertisers on a site, but not the site itself, from tracking user click-stream behavior.

The Directions on Microsoft telebrief on SP1 for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 can be accessed here.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.