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Microsoft plans to finish working on its Windows 8 operating system this summer and have it ready for personal computers and tablets in October, according to unnamed sources familiar with the matter speaking with Bloomberg.
The sources also revealed that the Redmond-based company plans to release both the traditional x86 version of Windows 8 and the new ARM version at the same time. It is expected that five ARM-based devices will feature the new OS on launch day, with more expected in the future.
According to the sources, three of them will be ARM-based tablets, and Microsoft's tight control of the number is to ensure extensive quality control standards are kept to, so that the first devices exceed consumer expectations.
In many ways it makes sense, as the software house is an expert at crafting operating systems using the x86 architecture, but this is their first attempt at providing consumers with an identical version on ARM-based devices. By limiting the initial offering of ARM devices it frees the company to focus extensively on each one to ensure they operate as expected.
A launch around this time would also be ideal for Microsoft to target Christmas shoppers and claw back some of the consumer interest that has largely focused on Apple products over the course of the last year.
"If they miss the September-October time frame, they're going to be stuck without being able to ship anything in 2012," said Michael Gartenberg, an analyst at Gartner, speaking to Bloomberg. He continued, "the last thing Microsoft wants to have is a situation where there are no compelling Windows tablets at a time when the new iPad looks like it's going to be a good seller for the holidays."
They also revealed that the company will host an event next month with industry partners, in which they will detail their release strategy for the new OS, as well as marketing and pricing information.
Microsoft has not responded to requests for further comment, but Steven Sinofsky has stated on the Building Windows 8 MSDN blog repeatedly that the company plans to release both architectures at the same time.