WPC 2012 Microsoft has set the date for the release of Windows 8: the operating system will be released to manufacturers in August ahead of a general release at the end of October.
"The wait is almost over," said Tami Reller, chief marketing officer of Microsoft's Windows division. "Windows 8 is on track to be released to manufacturing the first week in August and Windows 8 will reach general availability at the end of October. New Windows 8 PCs will be available to buy and upgrades will be available."
Anyone buying a PC from today will be able to upgrade to Windows 8 for $14.95, she said, and for the rest of us the $39.99 price tag looks set in stone. All customers will get access to SkyDrive cloud storage with a Windows 8 purchase, and the commerce engine for the Windows Store will be live from the release-to-manufacturing date to allow developers more time to add apps.
Reller was speaking at Microsoft's Worldwide Partners Conference (WPC) in Toronto today. Her boss Steve Ballmer claimed that Windows 8 would be the biggest deal for Microsoft in 17 years, since the launch of Windows 95.
Ballmer promised resellers that the new operating system, and the forthcoming Office 15 release, will form a package that will make them money. He sweetened the pot further for partners with the promise of increased margins on the Office platform. Resellers can make up to 23 points of margin, which Ballmer claimed was 11 points more than the competition.
"As you bet on us, we will reward you on margin," he promised.
As El Reg has predicted, October is becoming the traditional release month for Microsoft's operating systems. The exception is Vista, which considering how badly it bombed could be one reason why Microsoft's sticking with the traditional schedule.
That said, you won't get all Windows 8 systems this autumn. If the Surface announcement is to be believed then the October launch will bring with it PCs and ARM tablets, but Intel-powered Windows 8 Pro fondleslabs will come out about three months later in January.
Microsoft has confirmed to El Reg that we'll have to wait until 2013 to get the full Windows 8 lineup. ®