March 20, 2012 at 3:15 PM ET
We've known Windows 8 is coming later this year, but now a report suggests that October will be when Microsoft's new operating system makes its debut. Good timing for those looking to buy new PCs -- and perhaps Windows tablets? -- for the holidays.
A consumer preview version of Windows 8, designed to run on both tablets and computer, was released a few weeks ago, and saw more than 1 million downloads in its first day.
Bloomberg is reporting that Microsoft will finish work on Windows 8 this summer, "setting the stage for personal computers and tablets with the operating system to go on sale around October, according to people with knowledge of the schedule."
(Msnbc.com is a joint venture of Microsoft and NBC Universal, but, as we've noted, that doesn't grant us privileged access to Microsoft products.) We asked Microsoft about the timing, and the company declined to comment.
Gartner analyst Michael Gartenberg told Bloomberg that if Microsoft misses the "September-October time frame, they’re going to be stuck without being able to ship anything in 2012 ... 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."
PC makers, too, are counting on Windows 8 to help spur what have been lackluster sales in recent years. At January's Consumer Electronics Show, "ultrabooks," essentially lightweight laptops that are MacBook Air knockoffs, were on the push list by manufacturers for this year. While many ultrabooks can and will run Windows 7, once twinned with Windows 8, they may prove to be more appealing to buyers.