Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has promised a Windows 8 release next year.
Ballmer, speaking at Microsoft’s Developer Forum in Japan on Monday, promised a Windows 8 release across PCs, tablets and slates next year. “As we progress through the year, you ought to expect to hear a lot about Windows 8,” said Ballmer. “Windows 8 slates, tablets, PCs, a variety of different form factors.” Ballmer’s mention of Windows 8 is a stark contrast to that of his colleagues. Steven Sinofsky and the Windows team typically refers to Windows 8 as the “next-generation” of Windows, avoiding the 8 branding. Mary Jo Foley reports that a Microsoft spokesperson referred to Ballmer’s words as a “misstatement.”
“We’re obviously hard at work on the next version of Windows. Windows 7 PCs will sell over 350 million units this year. We’ve done a lot in Windows 7 to improve customer satisfaction. We have a brand new user interface. We’ve added touch, and ink, and speech. And yet, as we look forward to the next generation of Windows systems, which will come out next year, there’s a whole lot more coming. As we progress through the year, you ought to expect to hear a lot about Windows 8. Windows 8 slates, tablets, PCs, a variety of different form factors.”
Windows Chief Steven Sinofsky will appear at the All Things Digital D9 conference next week. WinRumors reported on Monday that Sinofsky plans to demo Windows 8 at the conference. The demo will likely only be a “technology preview” of what Microsoft is planning for its tablet and slate come back. Microsoft has been secretly preparing an “immersive” tablet experience inside Windows 8. The “immersive” experience will include a Metro based user interface according to sources familiar with Microsoft’s plans. Microsoft will include a new application model codenamed “Jupiter” that will allow developers to create Silverlight based applications, deployed as AppX packages (.appx). The packages will be part of a new Windows application store, pre-installed with Windows 8. WinRumors understands the company will be looking to provide an easy way for existing Windows Phone developers to scale their applications for use with Jupiter.
Microsoft has so far been extremely quiet on the Windows 8 front. Windows Chief, Steven Sinofsky, took to the stage at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January to introduce a technology preview of Microsoft’s Windows ARM support and show off an early build of Windows 8. Microsoft is partnering with ARM-based manufactures NVIDIA, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments to produce new Tablet devices. Rumors suggest that Microsoft will create a dual-UI for Windows 8. A tile-based user interface codenamed “Mosh” will reportedly be included.
Steve Ballmer has described the next release of Windows as the company’s “riskiest product bet”. It is understood that Microsoft will feature deep cloud integration into the future OS to realise its vision of “three screens and a cloud”. One Microsoft employee recently said he believes Windows 8 will be the “most important Windows ever shipped.”