Rumor: Windows 8 Hitting Sooner Than Expected in April 2012

By Wesley Fenlon

Windows 8 may be further into development than we expected. Could it be less than a year away?

Just before Microsoft publicly showed off Windows 8 at the All Things Digital conference, we dug into the prediction that the Win7 successor would hit the market around summer 2012. Next year may feel too soon for the next version of Windows, but there’s almost no doubt it’s coming. In fact, it might be coming even sooner than we expect.

ZDNet’s latest rumor indicates that Microsoft may be making an exceptionally rare move in the technology world by bumping a product release up instead of back, which would put Windows 8 RTM in boxes sailing off to manufacturers by April 2012.

That seems awfully soon, doesn’t it? Definitely--but there is some reasoning backing up the idea. A Microsoft source speaking to ZDNet’s Mary-Jo Foley says the company is on track to have the OS completed by around April 2012. That means Windows 8 x86, Windows 8 ARM, the whole shebang.

According to the source, Microsoft plans to release a beta of Windows 8 at its September Build conference rather than the expected pre-beta build. That would indicate development is further along than we know. Three or four months after the beta the release candidate should be ready, and after putting out a final RC in January Microsoft will have a couple months to complete the OS, box it up and throw a price sticker on it.

As Foley points out, a pre-summer release gives devicemakers a few extra months to get Windows 8 tablets onto the market. She bets the summer 2012 release was giving the Microsoft team a little padding just in case they needed extra development time. If problems popped up, they could still hit their release window. We don’t have to wait until next year to find out when the OS is coming, though--whatever Microsoft releases at the Build conference will be a big clue as to the release date of Windows 8. The further along the software is, the sooner we can expect to get our hands on it.