Microsoft: Windows 8 to RTM in August

Software giant uses partner conference to showcase devices, operating systems and its latest purchase.

Windows 8

Microsoft has confirmed that Windows 8 is on track to be released to manufacturers (RTM) in the first week of August, with general availability at the end of October.

The release schedule isn't a surprise, confirming speculation over the arrival date of the next generation OS.

Business customers with Software Assurance subscriptions will be given access to the OS in August, Microsoft added, while Windows Server 2012 will RTM in August and head to customers in September.

We may have to keep a few more things secret going forward.

Tami Reller, chief financial officer and chief marketing officer of the Windows and Windows Live division, confirmed the release date at Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference in Toronto today, as she showed off a host of Windows 8 devices created by the software giant's manufacturing partners.

That included Acer, Sony and Asus Ultrabooks, as well as a Lenovo "Yoga" laptop that folds back into a tablet - all featuring touchscreens to work with the Metro UI - as well as development ARM-based devices running Windows RT.

The focus on partners is key for Microsoft - especially following the announcement last month of Surface, Microsoft's own brand tablet, which surprised its partner manufacturers.

CEO Steve Ballmer played down Surface, suggesting sales of the Microsoft tablet would make up online a "few million" of the 375m Windows PCs expected to be sold in the next year. He stressed a "diversity" of devices was necessary "so every customer can say 'I have the perfect PC for me'."

Ballmer also suggested there were benefits to working on projects out of the public eye, saying: "we may have to keep a few more things secret going forward".

Ballmer said he was running Office 15 on Windows 8 for his day-to-day work, as Kurt DelBene, president of the Microsoft Office Division, promised more details on the next version of the productivity suite would be announced "later this summer".

Reller also said that the app store would go live at RTM, to let developers sell to early adopters. "When Windows 8 launches there will be apps for everything I want to do," said Reller.

Microsoft also revealed it had purchased large-scale display firm Perceptive Pixel.

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