Ballmer lets slip Windows 8 release schedule, backtracks

Something strange happened at the Microsoft Developer Forum in Tokyo, Japan yesterday. According to the official transcript on Microsoft’s website, CEO Steve Ballmer said in no uncertain terms that Windows 8 will be out next year. See for yourself:

We’re obviously hard at work on the next version of Windows. . . . 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.

A statement like that coming from the company’s CEO leaves little open to interpretation. However, after quoting that statement yesterday evening, the folks Business Insider received a surprising retraction from a Microsoft spokesperson:

It appears there was a misstatement. We are eagerly awaiting the next generation of Windows 7 hardware that will be available in the coming fiscal year. To date, we have yet to formally announce any timing or naming for the next version of Windows.

Now there’s a statement that’s open to interpretation—Windows 8 may or may not be called Windows 8, apparently, and it may or may not come out next year.

That said, Steve Ballmer is the last person in the world I would expect to make an uninformed statement about the timing of the next major Windows release, especially when giving a keynote speech to a crowd of developers. Either Ballmer was very jet-lagged, or he let slip information that wasn’t supposed to be public quite yet, and the company’s PR department is merely doing damage control.

Comments closed
    • tygrus
    • 8 years ago

    We might see something of Windows 8 next year but that doesn’t mean retail availability. It may just be the start of beta or release candidate. The PR bunnies have not even started to conduct the naming brainstorm and market research for a catchy name instead of a number. They tried it with Windows XP and Vista but should stick with the logical numeric sequence based naming conventions. Vista was 6, Windows 7 is actually 6.1. That’s excluding the build number.
    There are many cases of marketing people who lack the concept of longevity when it comes to model and version numbering with an attention span of about 5mins.

    • LeGoulu
    • 8 years ago

    I don’t really get what the fuss is all about. When Ballmer talks about “the next generation of Windows systems”, he does not mean *operating* systems, i.e. Windows 8, but platforms/devices, hence the rewording that came later: “the next generation of Windows 7 hardware”. I’m not sure there’s more to it than a mere misunderstanding of his sentence by journalists in a hurry.

    • Xenolith
    • 8 years ago

    Ballmer has misspoken before. There’s nothing definite here. I’m sure 2012 is the goal for Win 8, but there is plenty of things that can go wrong that would delay it.

    • demalion
    • 8 years ago

    Parsing it, I can see another way to take it. He talks about them being hard at work on the next version, but then says “And yet…” and makes a statement that makes sense as a qualification along the lines of “Windows 7 and hardware using it still has more to show you in the coming year.”

    It would then be easy to construe the following talk about “Windows 8” meaning “Windows 7”, if you simply presume Ballmer, (or the transcriber if the there is a video/podcast of the Developer Forum speech that contradicts the transcript), got confused in the talk about both Windows 7 and its successor in the prior sentences and started misspeaking.

    Personally, I don’t find that presumption much of a stretch…especially as the statements don’t seem to reveal what could plausibly be taken as a slip-up about Windows 8 actual release schedule AFAICS.

    • d0g_p00p
    • 8 years ago

    I don’t know, I am getting less and less excited for new windows releases. Windows releases used to mean big changes and forward looking tech (Win95 > WinNT 4.0 > Win2K) now it seems most of the tech and changes is crap I could care less about, like useless UI enhancements, icons and simplified options (like the stupid “ribbon”) it’s all more consumer based and I get that but if I wanted a dumbed down OS I would switch to OS X.

    • ronch
    • 8 years ago

    Aren’t they releasing it too soon? As it is I’m not expecting it to be much more than a revamped Win7 and a new skin. It probably won’t be the big jump we saw from WinXP to Vista/7.

    • danny e.
    • 8 years ago

    3 year cycles means, yes, it will come out late next year. The retraction is simply marketing to avoid sales losses for the average joe consumer that might not realize that a shiny new thing is always around the corner.

      • ronch
      • 8 years ago

      Intel started tick-tock. Now this is Microsoft’s. Everyone’s life in the computer industry just got a little bit harder.

        • Sahrin
        • 8 years ago

        …as has already been pointed out, MS used to be on a 2-3 year release cadence, until XP. XP is literally the *only* version of Windows not released within 2-3 years of its predecessor. This is not new. What was new was having the same OS for 6 years.

          • jstern
          • 8 years ago

          And Microsoft was forced to have if out for that long because of some flaw that needed immediate attention, and resource from the team working on the next Windows. Not sure what that flaw was, but who knows, perhaps they avoided a Sony (with their current Playstation network problem).

          Also, not sure what the guy’s complain about tick toc is. CPUs get faster, and smaller, like every 18 months. It has always been that way. Does he want Intel to take breaks, or get rid of that name since it points to progress.

    • mcnabney
    • 8 years ago

    I’ll file this one under ‘don’t care’.

    By the end of 2012 I imagine we will see desktop computing begin a serious decline. The new generation of consoles will be trickling out and once again PC gaming will be declared dead. However, this time they will be right. The jack-of-all-trades PC has been shattered into smartphones, consoles, and tablets. The only high-power needs outside of video editing and creative productivity is gaming – with consoles claiming victory and tablets/smartphones becoming capable of almost everything the consumers aren’t going to rush out and buy new PCs or laptops. The old ones will sit around for a while longer and eventually get chucked. However, when they get chucked the desk will go with it.

      • oldog
      • 8 years ago

      Well, maybe so… but maybe not. Prognostication can be a dicey proposition.

      A question to ponder, will gold close above or below $1500 per ounce in 2012? You know you could make a lot of money if you’re right.

        • indeego
        • 8 years ago

        Above. $2300.

          • oldog
          • 8 years ago

          You think? Really?!!!

          • Sahrin
          • 8 years ago

          Unlikely Money supplies are going to go down in 2012 and interest rates up, which will put deflationary pressure on commodities; gold is at the high extreme of succeptibility to inflation because there are millions of idiots who think it has innate value. As soon as QE2 ends and/or the Fed begins rate hikes, dump your gold because it’s going to lose 50%+ of its value in the next decade (and even more on a relative basis as the money supply dwindles).

            • indeego
            • 8 years ago

            Rate hike in a fragile economy would be a silly exercise.
            Until I see serious compromise from our pathetic government (Raise taxes AND cut services would be a good start) I’m voting for meltdown of U.S. economy, and therefore gold ho.

      • NeXus 6
      • 8 years ago

      Last I read about the new Xbox was a possible 2015 release date, so you’re way off there. I agree that the shift to smartphones and tablets will pretty much kill off desktop computing for the masses, but the niche market for it will still be there and PC gaming will still be alive unless Valve shuts down Steam.

      • ronch
      • 8 years ago

      Desktops aren’t being replaced by smartphones, consoles and tablets; they’re being replaced by laptops. And those use the same OS. People are too used to using devices that aren’t too small to be a hindrance to work. Portable devices such as smartphones and tablets will have their place, but not to replace your laptop in the office, because people still want larger displays (like when typing a document or using CAD, etc.) And I do hope they don’t chuck out our desks along with the desktops. Can you imagine an office without desks? Perhaps by 2050 or so, but not earlier.

      PC Gaming will only die when AMD/ATI and Nvidia (and Intel?) can no longer increase GPU performance and the consoles catch up with PCs in graphics performance while being significantly cheaper. Till then, gamers will always want more and more graphics power and the PC is where it’s at.

        • mcnabney
        • 8 years ago

        The Atrix is the face of future computing. A powerful smartphone that can dock into a familiar desktop environment and then go back into your pocket. Non-productivity and non-3D gamers will likely favor this route. Likewise, your mom and dad are going to ditch the desktop/laptop that sits in the guest room and is only used for basic purposes for a tablet. Simple, intuitive, nearly headache-free.

        I also mentioned that this would be the overall market. I am sure workstations will remain, but there aren’t hundreds of millions of workstations out there. There are that many $400-600 desktops that are really just used to browse, email, and do pictures. That is the market that will wither.

        And you and I both know that very few games are released which actually require horsepower beyond the current consoles. Do you really think that is going to change?

        • Malphas
        • 8 years ago

        “PC Gaming will only die when AMD/ATI and Nvidia (and Intel?) can no longer increase GPU performance and the consoles catch up with PCs in graphics performance while being significantly cheaper.”

        Not going to happen at the current rate since Nvidia and ATI chips are what’s powering the current generation of consoles (Nvidia in the Xbox 360 and PS3, ATI in the Wii), and consoles already cost the same as budget desktops at launch (unsurprising really since they almost literally [i<]are[/i<] desktop PCs in terms of hardware, the main different being the current generation use PowerPC processors, although the first Xbox used a X86 Pentium 3 derivative). I think it's also a mistake to continue assuming the PC will remain the domain of the more serious "hardcore" gamer, whilst consoles target a more casual demographic. Sure there's an element of that, but increasingly there's growth in casual gaming on the PC - it's a lot less nerdy, masculine and adolescent to own a laptop than an Xbox. As well as browser games are becoming increasingly sophisticated, digital distribution is becoming more widespread, and Intel IGPs are finally becoming half-decent.

      • d0g_p00p
      • 8 years ago

      I’ll file this one under ‘el oh el’.

      • Krogoth
      • 8 years ago

      Desktop computing isn’t going away. It is going to change though, we are going to see another wave of miniaturization in the form of SFF PCs and All-in-one Systems. I expect Intel to finally make a successor to ATX form factor (not stillborn BTX). Laptops will continue their role as a mobile platform that compliments desktops.

      The current tablet and smartphone craze is mostly a fad. They are useful, but only for a certain niche. For the rest of us, they are just expensive, cumbersome toys.

      What is going extinct is the familiar desktop chassis. It will only exists in workstation realm, while servers continue to migrate towards rackmount chassis.

      • designerfx
      • 8 years ago

      wake me in 2020, which is about the earliest your magic prediction would ever be accurate.

      We’re likely to end up with a single device – a smartphone, with docks for a desktop, docks in the back of a tablet, and the smartphone itself as the third “usage” for the single device.

      All they have to do is majorly up performance capabilities in smartphones, which, guess what? Is already happening. Next round of arm processors is to have greater than PS3 capability, and that’s a 6 month development cycle.

    • Buzzard44
    • 8 years ago

    I think it should be “Windows Friday”. I mean come on, we gotta get down on Friday! Next comes Windows Saturday, and afterwards comes Windows Sunday.

    Get WinFriday home? Get WinFriday pro? Which Win should I choose?

    • Malphas
    • 8 years ago

    I’d prefer going back to the pre-95 version and build naming scheme like the majority of other software uses.

    • bdwilcox
    • 8 years ago

    Windows 8 = Vista SP4

      • OneArmedScissor
      • 8 years ago

      Windows 8 = NT 3.0 SP497

    • potatochobit
    • 8 years ago

    they better not be thinking of charging full price for this

      • smilingcrow
      • 8 years ago

      Why not? They had very good pre-release deals on Win7; well at least in the UK. Picked up a full retail version of Pro for £80 and Home Premium for £40.
      Sold Pro for £30 profit then changed my mind 6 months later and bought a kosher copy on eBay for £75 so the net cost was £45.
      Saves messing about with OEMs and upgrades.

      • Sahrin
      • 8 years ago

      If it’s anything like Win7, I’ll happily pay full retail for it.

      The *real* question is: What will the version number be?

        • derFunkenstein
        • 8 years ago

        I bet the version number starts with 6.2. And I’m fine with that, Windows 6.1 (7) has been very good to me.

      • potatochobit
      • 8 years ago

      Do you have any idea how many years it took people to switch off windows XP?

      tech geeks, like most of you, might think a new OS is a good idea, but people dont want to pay for the same thing twice. Most people just bought windows 7. and now you are going to tell them they need to fork over another 150$? people also dont like to reformat their ENTIRE hard drives like tech geeks love to do.

      you idiots want to rate me down, go ahead.

      Apple OS releases updates regularly, but the price is actually a good deal. Snow leopard cost me less than 30$.
      usually apple charges ridiculous prices for their hardware but the OS pricing is very affordable.

      if microsoft wants to charge FULL price for a new OS build then that new build better bring something new to the table. I dont see anything the common household user would ever need from windows8 at this point in time.

      Microsoft should worry more about their over priced MS office crap that they have been releasing. Most of us are not happy about paying for a full upgrade after recently purchasing the current software at full price and this is reflected in their sales charts.

        • indeego
        • 8 years ago

        The [url=http://store.apple.com/us_smb_78313/browse/home/shop_mac/family/mac_pro<]$2500-$5000+[/url<] Operating system?

          • derFunkenstein
          • 8 years ago

          That’s disingenuous and you know it. More like the $30 OS upgrade or the $50 5-pack system upgrade.

            • Malphas
            • 8 years ago

            indeego is referring to the fact that you’re paying Apple tax solely for their OS, since the underlying hardware is now identical to PCs.

            • indeego
            • 8 years ago

            You cannot buy a mac product without the Operating system. The OS is a forced buy, and therefore the product+OS is that amount.

            I can buy tens of thousands of custom or OEM PC’s without Microsoft Operating Systems, and I have a wide variety of options when it comes to MS Operating systems that add minimally to the cost of a system. We’re talking between an estimated $40-$200 for client operating systems, depending on features and licenses.

            • Sahrin
            • 8 years ago

            What the hell good is an OS upgrade you buy 5 of at a time? And how is it possible for one person to afford 5 Macs?

        • Malphas
        • 8 years ago

        Guess what, no-one is forcing you to upgrade every time Microsoft releases a new OS. Upgrade as and when you need to like a normal person. Do you complain every time a updated version of your car is released? Or every time Intel/AMD release a new line of processors? It’s called progress. The vast majority of people will use whatever OS their Dell/HP comes with and only upgrade when they decide to replace their machine, that’s who Microsoft cares about (along with businesses), not you.

        • ronch
        • 8 years ago

        A $30 OS means they offloaded some of the OS’s cost to the hardware. Apple knows buying their cheap OS is useless without buying their expensive hardware.

      • 5150
      • 8 years ago

      With my TechNet subscription, I don’t care what they charge (for Windows 8).

    • Tibba
    • 8 years ago

    Win 7’s been out for what, ~18 months? MS pushing out Win 8 in late ’12, just in time for the holiday shopping season would bring 7’s lifespan pretty close to the three year mark. I seem to recall MS saying they wanted to bring out new OS versions more frequently, like oh, 3 year intervals for a while now.
    Gonna file this one as a mildly amusing but unsurprising slip, beyond that…
    /shrug

    • Duck
    • 8 years ago

    Can we agree to just call it by it’s version or build?

    For example, I’m running Windows 6.1. Build 7601 if you must know.

    Windows 6.1 has so much more geek chic about it.

      • End User
      • 8 years ago

      Nothing Microsoft produces has geek chic.

        • Duck
        • 8 years ago

        Ok, just do it to scare off the noobs a little bit. Is more elitist 😛

        • indeego
        • 8 years ago

        After they brought in Mark Russinovich it does. mmmmm luvs me some process explorer….

      • Sahrin
      • 8 years ago

      It’s not “Windows 6.1” it’s “NT6.1” – there are two branches of “Windows” – DOS/9x and NT.

        • Duck
        • 8 years ago

        Not according to Windows.

        “Microsoft Windows
        Version 6.1 (Build 7601: Service Pack 1)”

        Is what it says.

    • puppetworx
    • 8 years ago

    Is it just me or is it way too soon?

    Sure getting Windows 8 will be fine packaged with a new PC but I expect retail sales will be minuscule. For this reason I’m willing to bet that Windows 8 offers very little extra in the way of features and merely has more device functionality: specifically tablets.

      • Malphas
      • 8 years ago

      It’s just you (and other people who’s formative years were during the Windows XP period). Windows 7 came out in 2009, “Windows 8” is going to most likely be released in 2012, that’s 3 years apart, whilst Ubuntu for example is updated every 6 months, OS X every 2 years on average, etc.

      Every Windows version besides Vista has been released after its predecessor in less than 4 years (e.g. Windows 2.0 through to 3.1, Windows 95 and 98, Windows Me, Windows XP and Windows 7). Windows Vista wasn’t the norm, it was the final result of the Longhorn project that was meant to be originally released in 2003 (2 years after XP) but became inundated with setbacks.

        • OneArmedScissor
        • 8 years ago

        And Vista was 2006. Six years from one full version to the next is the exact same cycle between Windows 2000 and Vista.

    • jjj
    • 8 years ago

    Last week or so both Intel and AMD let is slip that Win 8 comes next year.AMD in a presentation at JP Morgan and Intel at their shareholders meeting.

    • jstern
    • 8 years ago

    I think it should be called Windows 8, cause it creates a lot of excitement for the kids, since 8 comes after 7. My cousin 8 year old son got excited for Windows 8, and was disappointed when he learned that it’s coming out next year, but if it was called something like, Windows Sky, or whatever random name, then he wouldn’t really care, cause a name like that doesn’t give the vibe of coming after 7.

      • OneArmedScissor
      • 8 years ago

      What?!? Are you saying you didn’t think Vista was an awesome name?

        • Sargent Duck
        • 8 years ago

        I liked Vista as a name. Also like Windows XP. I hope Microsoft goes back to that naming style.

      • Sargent Duck
      • 8 years ago

      Your 8 year old son is going to plunk down $200 for an OS? At that age I was busy saving up for lego… (never could save up enough to get the $100 lego space train thing)

        • jstern
        • 8 years ago

        No, but the the average 8 year old is still a little bit like the average users who don’t really follow these things. I’m just saying that as a marketing thing, it might be good to go with 8. If it was called something like Windows 2012, then it would feel kind of old in 2013 and 14.

        • bthylafh
        • 8 years ago

        I remember being excited about OS/2 3.0 (shut up) when I was fourteen.

      • Silus
      • 8 years ago

      I’m sorry ? 7 comes after 8 ?

        • jstern
        • 8 years ago

        Oops, even after reading it again I didn’t catch it, since the brain pretty much understands the point.

          • druidcent
          • 8 years ago

          Depends on which way you are counting 😀

        • dpaus
        • 8 years ago

        Yeah, just ask Werner von Braun.

    • Sahrin
    • 8 years ago

    Steve Ballmer: Windows 8 is coming next year, and it’s going to be great – new hardware that can make mutton chops and everything!
    [i<]Meanwhile, in Austin[/i<] Michael Dell: What the fuck Ballmer? Some of us have 4 quarters worth of sales goals to hit with hardware you just obsoleted; and oh yeah, my best buddy from college isn't on the fucking board to save my ass when we miss. [i<]The next day[/i<] MS Spokesvole: Everyone go buy a Dell, because Windows 8 isn't coming out until you do.

      • NeelyCam
      • 8 years ago

      bump – awesome stuff

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