Windows 8 Confirmed For October
It's official – the first devices running Microsoft's new operating system, Windows 8, will go on sale at the end of October.
Microsoft says it's on track for the consumer release of Windows 8 for the end of October.
Speaking at Microsoft's annual Worldwide Partner Conference, corporate vice-president and CFO for Windows and Windows Live Division, Tami Reller, confirmed the release to manufacturing version of the OS is on track to be released in the first week of August. This will then be followed by the consumer release of the OS, and the first Windows 8 devices in October.
In his keynote address at the conference, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said: “This will be the biggest product and services launch year in our company's history, creating massive opportunities for our partners to grow their businesses.”
According to Microsoft, users who purchase Windows 7 PCs prior to the release of Windows 8 will be able to upgrade to Windows 8 Pro, following its release for $14.99. Reller said approximately 50% of enterprise desktops are currently Windows 7, with 630 million Windows 7 licences sold.
At the beginning of June, Microsoft made the final pre-release version of Windows 8 available for download. There have reportedly been over one million downloads of the Windows 8 consumer preview to date.
During her presentation, Rellar also showcased a number of lesser known Windows 8 features, such as synchronised cloud user profiles and notably “Windows to Go”.
Windows 8 on a USB stick
Windows to Go essentially stores the user's customised version Windows 8 OS, apps and settings on a USB stick, making Windows 8 portable to other PCs – including previous generation Windows 7 devices. The USB stick used by Reller in the demonstration was 32GB and ran Windows 8 Pro.
The Windows to Go concept is not a new one and was first detailed by Microsoft in September 2011. However, at the time it was not made clear if the portable OS would be compatible with non-Windows 8 PCs.
Microsoft is positioning Windows to Go as a way for corporate customers to have full access to Windows 8 and their work and data across multiple PCs. Other applications are for corporate recovery scenarios. The concept could also appeal to education institutions that need to cater for students will erratic computer access.
In April, Microsoft's Erwin Visser said in a post on the Windows Team blog: “Windows To Go is a fully manageable corporate Windows 8 desktop on a bootable external USB stick.
“This will allow IT organisations to support the 'Bring Your Own PC' trend and businesses can give contingent staff access to the corporate environment without compromising security.”
According to Visser, apart from Bring Your Own PC scenarios, Windows To Go will also give employees working from home secure access to their full corporate environment (granted they have an active Internet connection).
“With Windows To Go use rights under Software Assurance, an employee will be able to use Windows To Go on any company PC licensed with Windows SA, as well as from their home PC. Additionally, through a new companion device licence for SA, employees will be able to use Windows To Go on their personal devices at work.”
According to reports, if the Windows USB stick running the Windows 8 OS is removed during operation, the OS is paused for 30 seconds. If the USB is re-inserted in this time, the user can resume working, but if the 30 seconds lapses the OS closes and the RAM is purged.
Windows 8 has been hailed as a major step for Microsoft as it completely revamps its traditional operating system look and user interface. The new OS is being designed to create a cohesive user experience across all devices, using the Cubist “Metro” style design.
Speaking to ITWeb in May, Microsoft's VP for the Middle East and Africa, Ali Faramawy, said: “Windows 8 is a very different thing because it's the first and only really true, no-compromise story between the kind of performance and manageability standards that you need in the enterprise and the kind of flexibility that you need for consumers.
“The work that has been done on the different working scenarios is absolutely amazing and the reception from the market has been really great. The Windows eco-system stands to be the largest, and much broader than any offering from any other company.”