updated 04:40 pm EST, Mon February 28, 2011
Windows 8 tablet interface prototype due by June
Microsoft could have the first Windows 8 tablet UI on show by mid-year with a mobile-influenced design, rumors contended on Monday. The first evidence of its redesign is reportedly slated for before the end of June, Microsoft's fiscal year end. The SAI tip suggest it would not only borrow cues from Apple but from the Metro interface in Windows Phone 7.
Related sources, however, rejected analyst claims that Microsoft was speeding up OS development and would have partners with Windows 8 tablets by early 2012. Microsoft wasn't yet providing developers with help for the ARM version of Windows, the tips said, and there was no Professional Developers Conference on tap to rally developers in an appropriate timeframe.
It was true Microsoft had put 1,000 staff working on developing Windows 8 and its ARM port, but this only meant the company was committed to the strategy, the source said. Increasing staff seldom leads to speeding up development time.
Most observers expect Windows 8 to reach its first beta by September, but Microsoft usually has one or more extra beta releases followed by one or more release candidates. The company almost always clings to a three-year release schedule for new operating systems and may have Windows 8 on shelves with tablets by late 2012, three years after Windows 7 shipped.
Windows has struggled to gain acceptance in the tablet space and so far is trailing well behind Android and iOS in market share. Microsoft tried to launch a preemptive strike by creating a halo around the HP Slate as the tablet that would thwart Apple, but it was ultimately delayed and relegated to niche sales. Microsoft later toned down its language and focused on specialized tablet uses such as the Samsung Sliding PC 7 without expectations that they would upset the tablet market.