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Alleged Leak Suggests Windows 8 Coming Mid-2012

According to veteran Microsoft watcher Mary-Jo Foley, Microsoft may be planning a "Windows 8" release set for mid-2012.

Additionally, Microsoft may roll out the Windows 8 community technology preview (CTP) at its next Professional Developers Conference (PDC), which usually takes place every fall, though Microsoft has cancelled the event in the past. Foley says she expects the next PDC to be held this September. 

Foley describes these speculations in an article based on an ostensibly leaked slide. The slide, still of uncertain authenticity, was passed to Foley by an unnamed source. Microsoft has said nothing about the release dates of its next-generation Windows OS and would not confirm the slide's authenticity, indicating through a spokesperson that "Microsoft does not comment on rumors or speculation." Microsoft publicly calls its next-generation OS "Windows Next," though Foley's slide has "Windows 8" written on it.

Microsoft typically (but not always) rolls out its new OSes every three years. Since the current Windows 7 OS was generally released in October 2009, an end-of-year release for Windows 8 in 2012 seems within reasonable historical expectations. Foley's prediction would put Windows 8 ahead of that schedule by a few months.

Microsoft has already discussed Windows Next integration with ARM-based system-on-chip hardware, a platform move that was announced at the Computer Electronics Show in January. A panel of Directions on Microsoft analysts, discussing the ARM integration, noted that Microsoft faces a back-to-school marketing schedule that begins in May, while the holiday selling season would begin in August.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said in October that the next generation of Windows would be the company's "riskiest product bet," without clarifying what he meant. Winrumors writer Tom Warren has suggested that Windows 8 might have greater integration with the cloud. Certainly, that approach was championed by former Microsoft Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie, at least in terms of syncing up data in the cloud with Windows-based devices, as already seen with Windows Live SkyDrive in conjunction with Office Web Apps.

Microsoft's latest cloud security move has been to support its U-Prove identity and security technology, while dropping its CardSpace 2.0 client ID authentication product. One of the main advantages of U-Prove, as described by Microsoft, is its use of the Internet cloud for authentication. Cloud trustworthiness in terms of security and privacy is still sometimes perceived as an obstacle to its general adoption.

Some Windows 8 features purportedly were leaked in July of last year, but that information was unconfirmed and may be inaccurate or old. The supposed Windows 8 features included power savings and speed improvements (such as instant sleep and faster wakeup times), facial recognition cameras, cloud-based identity (which sounds like U-Prove) and a 3-D user interface.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.