It’s remote from official, but Microsoft corporate vice president Dan’l Lewin, who handles tactical and rising business development, has hinted at the Windows 8 release date as likely to be early next autumn 2012 still the most likely date for the next version of Windows.
Speaking at the start-up LAUNCH event at the Microsoft Silicon Valley campus Lewin suggested “we will be in market – if you look at the crystal ball and just say what happened in the past is a sensible pointer of what our forward looking timelines will be and just speculate – we’ve made the point about having a developer discussion later this year, and then usually we enter a beta phase, and then in 12 months we’re in the market, so let’s make that statement.”
Asked why moving Windows to the ARM chip had taken Microsoft so long after other tablets had come out, he acknowledged Vista had slowed the Windows division down but said Microsoft had to take into account the large number of people using Windows already.
“We have a promise to our installed base. With Windows 7 on a huge number of devices, we have a very sound and wonderful baseline. Given the scale, we have a very strong faith system about that promise, and a very large customer base that thinks about managing these systems; so systems management, enterprise infrastructure, all those kinds of things.”
Consumers are also going to care about tablet security, he believes, and that’s why it makes sense for Microsoft’s tablet OS to be Windows rather than Windows phone.
“Our policy is a statement about phones and tablets being more or less the same thing. I think tablets are big phones, more or less and I think they will want, over time, some of the capabilities that PC architectures have.
“They want the safety, they want the manageability – particularly if you are a venture buying large volumes of these things, but consumers over time desire to identify about those things as well. Our approach with the tablet play being based on PC architecture, rather than the phone architecture, I think is the right one.”
Can Windows tablets can catch up with iPad and Android sales after that long? “I think it will just be a race once we get in the market.” The design of the Windows tablet interface started before the iPad came out, he said: “We knew where we were going, we just have to obtain there earlier. We’re executing as quick as we can.”
Lewin also hinted at multiple tablets from PC makers rather than the single Microsoft tablet we’ve heard rumors about. “Clearly there will be a great installed base of iPad and other tablet devices but it will be incumbent on us and our hardware partners to establish those form factors and use cases, and the battle will be on in the market for what the consumers desire to use.”