Toronto – Windows 8 will be available for wide release in late October, Microsoft Corp. confirmed today at its Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) in Toronto.
“Windows 8 will reach generalavailability at the end of October,” said Tami Reller, corporatevice-president and chief financial officer of Windows and Windows Live.
“Windows 8 PCs will be available to buy and upgrade starting in lateOctober,” she added.
The long-awaited operating system will be released in 109 languages in231 countries, representing “unprecedented reach and unprecedentedopportunities for your customers,” Reller said.
The long-awaited operating system update will be released tomanufacturers in the first week of August, Reller said in a keynotethat followed CEO Steve Ballmer’s address on the opening day of aconference attended by over 16,000 people, a WPC record.
Upgrades made easy
Reller emphasized how easily users can upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 8, with aWindows 8 Pro upgrade available for $14.99. She also gave short demosof various laptops, ultrabooks and tablets from Acer, Asus, Lenovo andSamsung, stressing they’ve been designed to run on Windows 7 now andmove quickly to Windows 8 later.
“These are all running Windows 7 and they all upgrade easily to Windows8,” Reller said. “This gives consumers comfort knowing they can buytoday and upgrade easily tomorrow.”
Some analysts haven’t been too bullish on projecting uptake levels forWindows 8, predicting that many enterprise IT managers who are stillkeeping a close eye on their budgets may be wary of reaching into theirpockets to upgrade to Windows 8 so soon after adopting Windows 7.
But analyst Paul Edwards said Windows 8 looks unique from — andsuperior enough to — Windows 7 to touch off a sizable refresh rate,and thus create new opportunities for Microsoft channel partners.
“There was certainly a surge of opportunity around Windows 7 andWindows 8 is expected to be much bigger,” said Edwards, director ofresearch at Info-Tech Research Group in Toronto. “Some great (Windows8) features were showcased. It’s really a building up of opportunitiesfor the partners.”
Microsoft’s partners are applauding the confirmed release date ofWindows 8 because it finally gives them some competitive muscle againstApple’s iPad and iOS apps, Edwardssaid, particularly since iPad hasn’t given partners enough weight inthe enterprise niche for both devices and apps.
“A lot of the partners are looking for that device on a Windowsplatform that can compete with the Apple platform. And this is it. Alot of partners are pumped and looking forward to this,” Edwards said.“I think it’s going to be a game changer from that perspective.”
Reller put a lot of emphasis during her presentation on what Windows 8 can offer to enterprise users.
“Windows 8 is great for business and business ready,” Reller said.“It’s personal but at the same time (it’s) really allowing businessesto be in control of their data…We think this will be great foremployees who want to bring their own devices to work but still in asecure environment.”
“So Windows 8 really does offer the convenience of a tablet and theproductivity of a PC,” she said.
Windows To Go demo
Reller demonstrated the portability of Windows To Go, a feature ofWindows 8 that allows users to store and boot their entire Windows 8desktop from mobile storage devices, in this case a 32 GB USB stick.
“It’s like having your secure corporate desktop in your pocket,” shesaid, after showing how the USB installed Windows 8 on a Windows 7 PCwithin just one or two minutes.
To pack some added punch into the new OS, Microsoft is giving everyWindows 8 user a SkyDrive cloud account. And Windows 8 willautomatically sync all of a user’s settings every time he or she logsonto any Windows 8 device.
Reller also assured partners in the audience that thousands of apps arecoming through the developer pipeline, which she said are key topersonalizing the Windows 8 user experience.
Reller began her presentation by thanking Microsoft’s partners fortheir hard work selling Windows 7 while readying for Windows 8. Allthat hard work paid off: over 630 million Windows 7 licenses have beensold to date, with more than 50 per cent of enterprise desktops aroundthe world now running Windows 7 and half a million desktops migratingto Windows 7 per day, Reller said.