When will Windows 8 ship? Readers make their predictions

When will Windows 8 ship? Readers make their predictions

Summary: Entries are closed in my Windows 8 release schedule prediction pool. Four finalists are still in the hunt, based on their accurate predictions so far. So when do these fearless prognosticators think Windows 8 will ship?


Back in January I kicked off my traditional Windows launch pool. The challenge? Predict the exact dates when Microsoft will release each milestone on the road toward the general availability of Windows 8.

The rules are clear: Pick the exact date when the public will be able to get its hands on each Windows 8 milestone—beta, release candidate (RC), release to manufacturing (RTM), and general availability (GA).

I got a total of 22 valid entries. (I threw out any entry that didn’t have a specific date listed for each milestone. Hey, rules are rules.)

Microsoft released the Consumer Preview (beta) on February 29. In Japan, earlier this week, the company revealed that the Release Preview (aka release candidate, or RC) will be available to the public “in the first week of June.”

That means the second milestone date could be anywhere between June 1 and June 7. Given that June 1 is a Friday, the actual winning date is more likely to be between Tuesday, June 5, and Thursday, June 7.

With those two pieces of information, nine entries have the potential to be within a week of both dates. So who’s closest so far?

Take a bow, Solid Jedi Knight, who nailed the beta delivery date and could be right on the money with the RC date as well. These are the predictions:

  • Consumer Preview: Feb 29
  • RC: June 7 (close but not quite on the name: “Business Preview”)
  • RTM: Aug 30
  • GA: Nov 15

And here’s the rationale behind those dates:

Every time I've [guessed] early, I've lost. So I’m going as late as possible since Windows 8 didn't have a beta in January. Thinking Microsoft is going to delay strategically as possible into November. Why? Holiday sales. Launch Windows 8 a week before Thanksgiving & gain mega traction just like the Kindle Fire. Plenty of time to bug squash & definitely the best time to launch a product since consumers are ready to spend in mid to late November.

ChuckOp65 was only one day off in predicting the Consumer Preview release date and also has a shot at nailing the second date:

  • Consumer Preview: Feb 28
  • RC: June 5
  • RTM: Aug 24 (“August 24 is [an] important date for Windows”)
  • GA: Oct 25

My ZDNet UK colleague Mary Branscombe got very close on the Consumer Preview date, guessing Feb 27 (“or maybe 28th”), but her prediction of June 11 will miss the RC by at least four days. Mary’s release schedule gets considerably more aggressive after that, predicting RTM on Aug 13 and GA on September 24.

Carlm11 was five days early with his Consumer Preview prediction but could score a bullseye with June 7 as the RC date. He predicts RTM and GA dates of Aug 16 and Oct 18, respectively.

How’d I do? More than a week early for the Consumer Preview but on target to hit the remaining dates:

  • Beta – Feb 20
  • RC – June 5
  • RTM – August 23
  • GA – October 25

For reference, here were the corresponding dates for Windows 7.

  • Beta: January 7, 2009
  • Release candidate (RC): May 5, 2009
  • Release to manufacturing (RTM): August 6, 2009
  • General availability (GA): October 22, 2009

The Windows 8 Consumer Preview was nearly eight weeks behind the equivalent Windows 7 date. Since then, Microsoft has picked up the pace a bit: the RC will be roughly 4 weeks behind the equivalent Windows 7 date (between 27 and 33 days).

If Microsoft continues to work at a pace that’s equal to or slightly faster than what it did for Windows 7, we should see an RTM date in mid- to late August and GA toward the end of October.

Topics: Operating Systems, Microsoft, Software, Windows

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  • I'm expecting

    Another douchy move on their part. You say "That means the second milestone date could be anywhere between June 1 and June 7. Given that June 1 is a Friday, the actual winning date is more likely to be between Tuesday, June 5, and Thursday, June 7.", and I honestly expect to have the bits no earlier than that Saturday, the 8th.

    Why? Because they pulled the same move with the beta. "Late February", turned into "The very last day in the month", and I'll be surprised if they don't do that here. We'll see. It'll be nice to have the bits before my camping trip that month, but I'm not holding my breath. Maybe Microsoft will genuinely surprise us here.
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
  • Windows 8

    September would be a great time for GA.
  • When will Windows 8 ship?

    Who cares? Windows 7 [b]just[/b] came out, and seems to be the Windows that people have been clamoring for for nearly a decade. Why muddy the waters with [i]another[/i] version? Aside from moving into the tablet game, what benefit is W8 going to bring that we don't already have with W7?

    We [i]finally[/i] have a version of Windows which is stable, relatively secure, dynamic across multiple hardware platforms and lightweight enough to really perform. What's the benefit for those of us on desktops and laptops to switch? Does anyone really think that touchscreen technology is the future of interface on non-mobile devices?

    I'd be happy for someone to convince me, but I've been using Microsoft products for long enough to know that "new" rarely means "better" with MS.

    [b]*edit: ahhh, the downvotes. I see that I've pissed someone off. The funny thing is, I still haven't received an answer to my question.[/b]

    Perhaps I [i]was[/i] too snarky in my original. I'm sure many people care. But I'm not sure why [b]I[/b] should care. As a tech enthusiast, I [i]want[/i] to be excited about a new OS. I want to know how Microsoft is going to change my computing experience. How about virtual desktops? How about something so revolutionary that I can't even imagine it?

    Instead, what I see is the overlay of a tablet PC GUI onto a desktop system. Again, maybe I'm totally wrong. But I need someone to tell me why.
    • well I care, and alot of people care.

      there are alot of benefits i have found using Win8 Consumer Preview. you probably havent even used it??? but its a good OS. stay with win7, it will be supported for many years. But Win8 is amazing and for me its better than Win7 for those things. and yeah Im talking about my gaming pc as my main OS even in a "preview" state.

      yeah I will get Win8 not first day maybe but this year. and Windows 7 came out 3 years ago, if you think thats "just" then ok.
      Emi Cyberschreiber
      • Again, I'm happy to be convinced

        As I said in my first post, I'm quite happy to be convinced that Windows 8 matters. But your post didn't tell me anything about [i]why[/i] W8 would be an improvement to the average Windows user. Can you point to any specific performance or stability upgrades?

        From Microsoft's own site, I get:
        "It's Windows reimagined and reinvented from a solid core of Windows 7 speed and reliability. It's an all-new touch interface. It's a new Windows for new devices. And it's your chance to be one of the first to try it out."

        And here are the main features listed:
        * Swipe, slide, and zoom
        * Apps, front and center
        * Your Windows, everywhere
        * Wall-to-wall web
        * The familiar, made better

        As far as I can tell, what they really made was a Tablet PC OS, and they're trying to make it seem like an improvement for the desktop experience.

        So, now instead of having a clean desktop with an organized Start Menu, I have a desktop through which I have to scroll and select app-tiles. What was wrong with the Start Menu? When did we decide that people wanted to do [i]more work[/i] to achieve the same result?
      • really?

        What does windows 8 have that is amazing? What about it is better for your gaming machine? Please share.
      • You mean a lot of shills will care

        I expect when Redmond shill activity intensifies, we'll be getting close to the release date.
    • You WILL Upgrade!

      Expect a visit from the Microsoft Tactical Deployment Squad the day after...they will ensure you upgrade at gun point if necessary.

      Really, is that hard to see that the new OS is all about the NEW devices that will be running it? It will not make sense for many or even most to upgrade existing machines to Windows 8. I probably will because of job-related reasons, and also because the prospect of a Windows 8 tablet appeals to me more than any existing device on the market. Microsoft will continue to support Windows 7 for many years yet, and not upgrading is certainly an option.
      • LOL

        You're probably right - I hadn't really thought of it from a "new consumer's point of view". Yes, much like Vista, new PCs will ship with W8. Do you remember that interview with Ballmer a few years ago, when he claimed that Vista was the most sold OS in history? I wonder if the Microsoft Tactical Deployment Squad will have to offer "performance downgrades" like they did with Windows Vista/XP :P

        But I still think my question is a good one - from my point of view, an entirely new version of Windows (or any OS) needs to be able to justify itself. Tighter security, better performance ... there has to be [i]some[/i] benefit. Otherwise, why not simply release incremental updates and service packages? Is this just a money grab?

        My assumption is that W8 is really a ploy to get into the tablet market, and that MS wants to implement all of its markets onto a single platform. But from what I've seen and read, I'm not convinced that the user interface is particularly suited for traditional PC usage. For those of us who don't want 'tiles' splashed across our desktop, what's the benefit?
      • Ignorance

        Lapland, think of this... How many programs do you use on windows today that you can't use on a tablet? Or you have to use a dumbed down version of the same program that has 1/10th of the usability? By bridging the gap between tablet os and desktop os, a program developer can design something to work on 1 operating system that you can use on your cell phone, tablet, and desktop/laptop computer...

        If that's not enough reason to come out with an operating system that's designed for use between touch screen and designed for use with a mouse, I'm not sure what is...

        Also as for your more work theory... You can still use the old style start menu.. So don't lose any sleep at night thinking you're going to lose your usability of the beautiful Windows 7 start menu.
      • Tactical Deployment Squad

        ROFLMAO! Thanks, I needed that this morning!!
      • @JoDell22

        You make a decent point, but I'm not sure that it really translates into reality.

        Firstly, the technical specifications for desktops and laptops are vastly different than those of tablets and phones. This is for good reason, including weight and battery life. True, technologies change and improve, but the bottom line is that, by design, different platforms have different components. This is driven mostly by the fact that people use tablets and phones for different tasks than they use desktops and laptops.

        Let's not forget - this is not the first time Microsoft has tried to unify different platforms with a single operating system. Indeed, the simplified design and OS of the iPad and other subsequent tablets is a reaction to the ineffective application of full-fledged desktop operating system on a tablet.

        Let's also not forget that, at this point, MS is a non-competitor in the phone tablet markets. Period. They've just got no significant presence, and given their rather late start, it's hard to say whether this gamble will pay off. Certainly, I can see some W8 tablets coming out, but I think it's also important to remember that there's a [i]reason[/i] that MS is not a big competitor in the mobile phone and music player market. They have a habit of being too late to the party, and not bringing anything to the table.

        Tablets have never been marketed or designed as complete replacements for desktops. And, like most people with tablets, I use mine for simple applications like web browsing and emails. I think most people do. I don't need fully-fledged applications to do these things.

        So while it sounds nice to talk about creating a single system to apply across multiple hardware platforms, what really matters is the end result. What concerns me is that MS has a pretty long history of [i]not quite getting it[/i]. They also have a pretty long history of releasing half-baked products with limited or broken functionality. I don't think I'm being particularly cynical or pessimistic when I say this. I think it's just true.
      • @JODell22

        Do tell what advantage a touch screen OS (W8) has for the majestic herds of average Windows desktop users that exist out there? I take it you've heard of the word inertia, then again, you might not have or never have considered it.

        So, do potter on with your postulating of such things like the world will be W8 by Christmas. The world probably won't care, or change much.
      • ...


        The flaw in that therory is that's like saying lets make an os that kinda can run desktop stuff just not as good as before but it can kinda run tablets and phones better then we need. None of it is done well but just passes. So you take a great os dummy it down, anger your loyal customers then introduce it on tablets to maybe 50000 new users and maybe another 20000 phone users. Basically that means you loose big time and possible for good.By not making an os in 2 form underlying friendliness your screwed. The metro part as ugly as it is will work decent on smaller touchcentric forms like tablets or phones. It however lends no plus to the desktop or laptop which demand more and familiarity. If they let users decide the setup or look ie say Im doing desktop install so I want a desktop and start button with windows familarity and ultra mouse keyboard familiarity or I choose metro tile for a tablet install that works. The user need to be able to choose from 2 options and not be forced to compromise quality and usability just for the sake of one size fits all.
      • Not buying it, @JODell22

        [i]How many programs do you use on windows today that you can't use on a tablet? Or you have to use a dumbed down version of the same program that has 1/10th of the usability?[/i]

        And that's [b]exactly[/b] what you're going to get with this Win 8 tablet. A dumbed down version of the same program that has 1/10th of the usability.

        You don't really believe they'll be able to run the good old fashioned x86 programs that you're so used to running, now do you?
    • true

      I agree they shouldnt be trying to push Windows 8 already, its too soon. And the Metro UI is DOA for desktops anyway, nobody wants a metro system for the desktop. Business are not going to adopt it just like with Vista, although this is going to be more of a disaster. The whole metro platform with its apps is going to be a serious issue. Nobody is really going to put apps on metro since it can only use a interpreted language instead of a compiled one. Therefore the language they use will be severely underpowered (just like java) and run like trash on all systems (just like java). And not only that but they will be moving away from their traditional desktop, while trying to keep it at the same time, causing further confusion amongst regular users.
    • Just came out? In what IT universe is 30 months "just [now]".

      Moving into the tablet game is <b><i>exactly the point</i></b> of Windows 8 and Windows RT. No one who bought Windows 7 since 2009 needs to be looking at Windows 8 unless they just WANT TO! It is not a competition.

      Windows XP users should not wait for Windows 8 to upgrade. They need to get out now and move to Windows 7.

      Windows 7 users need do nothing unless they are running Window 7 on LAME hardware which needs to be replaced anyway. Whether they move to Windows 7 now or Windows 8 later is an arbitrary discussion.

      Consumers looking to replace their aging laptop with an iPad should WAIT and start looking at Windows 8 and Windows RT tablets as soon as they become available.
      M Wagner
      • I use "just" in the historical context of Windows

        XP was, for the better part of a decade, [i]the[/i] Microsoft platform. Vista came out in late 2006, but was altogether passed over by IT departments and most knowledgeable users. Indeed, Vista is one of those stinky pieces of laundry that MS wishes everyone would just forget.

        But what that meant was that even after Vista's launch, XP was the preferred Windows product. MS had to offer "downgrade" keys to people. Given that information, XP was the standard for nearly 10 years.

        It's in that context that I claim that W7 "just" came out. People are wary about quick upgrades to new versions of Windows, the general consensus is very satisfied with W7. It works well, it's surprisingly stable and secure, and rarely has issues. In this sense, 3 years is a relatively small amount of time.

        My initial question, which I think is a good one, is simply to ask what the benefit is for most Windows users. How will the Metro UI help me? Why should I care? I can already select from a slew of tablets and phones, all of which are market tested and proven. I understand that MS wants to be part of the tablet game, but I just don't think that trying to build one behemoth of an OS to be loaded on all devices makes sense. They've tried that before, and that's the exact reason that they're not leading the market.

        I don't dislike MS. But I am frustrated with what seems to be their perpetual state of simply [i]not getting it[/i]. They are trying to be all things to all people, and in doing so have often failed to keep focus on their strengths.
      • Out of interest

        Why should XP users get out now?

        Here's a bone for you. PC's are pretty much a mature product and for the foreseeable future attempted revolutions in your basic desktops and laptops really have little or know chance of traction.

        Note that Vista and 7 rates of adoption have never really exceeded the rate of sale of new tackle. The only thing likely to change that is the punters spitting the dummy at the "revolution" that is W8. I hardly think they're going to start a riot to get their hands on W8.
      • The IT universe is also the past repeating itself

        Meaning we'll see downgrade rights to Windows 7 for those who don't want to deal with Windows 8, further putting off any OS upgrades.

        Just like a few years back, some things never change.