The Consumer Preview for Windows 8 has landed already, with plenty of praise, but perhaps more criticism for the new Metro interface. So far Microsoft has been pretty upfront about a 2012 launch for the new operating system, but reports seem to suggest that we will see Windows 8 launch as early as October, with a number of new devices in tow. Current work on Windows 8 is busy being wrapped up for July 2012, with the final Release to Manufacturing code released in September, according to Bloomberg.
Perhaps more significant is that this rollout date will include Microsoft‘s move into the ARM processor space, which will enable Windows 8 to run on the same architecture many smartphones and tablets are running, instead of only on x86 processors found in current desktops and laptops. The debut of Windows 8 will apparently launch on 5 ARM based devices (probably tablets), but a lot more x86 based devices. Microsoft is setting very strict rules for the ARM based products, similiar to what they are doing in the Windows Phone 7 space, while probably enforcing guidelines in terms of size and interaction. Expect very similiar layouts and designs from the ARM based device manufacturers.
This earlier shipping date will also mean that retailers can all get hold of Windows 8 machines for the all important Christmas shopping season. Microsoft is facing increasing competition from Post-PC devices like the iPad and Android devices, and it needs to get into the tablet market as quickly as possible. The sad part to this statement is that Microsoft has always been in the tablet market, but they have always just shipped standard Windows machines with touch based UI layers and Intel based hardware, without much success. The machines proved to be too heavy, slow and had poor battery life, which is the big reason for Microsoft’s adoption of ARM based devices.
While Windows 8 will run on ARM based tablets, it will not be the full Windows 8 interface, instead only the Metro based design which is currently going to replace the traditional Start Menu (yes, even the Start Button is gone). Whether this strategy will work for Microsoft, only time will tell.
Will you get the Windows 8 based tablet, or would you stick to iPad or Android?