How close is Windows 8 to being 'done'?

How close is Windows 8 to being 'done'?

Summary: When will Microsoft christen Windows 8 as being "done"? At this point in the game, no one from Microsoft has stated this in any official capacity.


Believe or not, folks, Microsoft execs still have not said when Windows 8 will be "done."

"Done," in this case, can mean either released to manufacturing or made generally available -- your call. But in spite of any rumors you've read, pundits to whom you've cleaved, or partners who claim to be in the know, there's been no officially sanctioned word.

This isn't too surprising, given the increasingly secrecy-obsessed Windows regime. But given most of the sources and contacts with whom I converse believe Windows 8 to be very close to the finish line, it's still somewhat interesting that no one from Microsoft has offered any substantial guidance here.

Microsoft execs said in September last year that there would be one public developer test build of Windows 8 (which came to be known as the Developer Preview), one public "beta" (the Consumer Preview) and one public Release Candidate (the Release Preview). Officials also have said that we Microsoft-watching-obsessed should not assume that Windows 8 will follow the same cadence as Windows 7 did, in terms of time that elapses between builds, etc.

There have been and continue to be additional private builds of Windows 8 that go to a select few outside the company. But after the Release Candidate -- which Microsoft made available at the end of May 2012 -- there are no more public test  builds of Windows 8 scheduled before the product is released to manufacturing (RTM).

Once Microsoft RTMs Windows 8, then the product goes to PC makers (which, as of last week, now also includes Microsoft itself). The PC makers do testing, finish any kind of compatibility work they need to achieve and preload images the operating system on new PCs.

Then, Microsoft -- at least in the past -- has tried to corral all its partners to deliver new PCs with the latest operating system at a common, given date. The rumored and still officially unconfirmed date for the Windows 8 "launch"/general availability is October 2012. This launch date is when Windows RT-based devices, including the ARM-based Microsoft Surface, is slated (no pun intended) to debut. (The Intel-based Surface will be available three months after Windows 8's general-availability date, Microsoft officials said last week.)

Meanwhile, the rumored and still officially unconfirmed date for Windows 8's RTM is late July. I've been hearing this date for a couple months now. Other sites are reporting that they are hearing the same, with some saying Windows 8 RTM could happen around the time of the Microsoft annual internal sales conference (which also is when Microsoft Q4 FY 2012 earnings are announced).

Just today, one of my contacts told me that even though some Microsoft watchers are reporting that the RTM Windows 8 build is "done," it's really not. The Windows team did "fork" Windows 8 today, this source claimed. But that doesn't mean the latest build shared today is the final build. There's still more work to do before Windows 8 goes gold and RTM is "declared," this contact said.

One other insider-baseball thing to note: Whenever Microsoft announces Windows 8 has RTM'd, the code may actually have been "done" and left unchanged for a matter of weeks. Best I can tell, the RTM "announce" is supposedly within a month, if sources can be believed. This makes a lot of sense given the rest of the rumored Windows 8 launch timeline (and Microsoft employees' propensity to disappear for much of the August vacation month).

Update: As the @BuildWindows8 account on Twitter reminded everyone today, the official guidance here is on May 31, Microsoft execs said to expect Microsoft to enter the "final phases" of the RTM process "in about two months." That's assuming all is seen as progressing well by Microsoft and its partners.

Topics: Software, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Windows


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • A Phrase I Liked

    "pundits to whom you???ve cleaved"

    A pleasure, as always, to read your reporting.
  • If the problems at the surface announcement weren't with Netflix or some other

    third party app then no it's not already done. Further more this is really the first time RTM doesn't mean ready to go from an oem putting something working into a retail store perspective. Remember the W8 store, all the roaming profile and app settings stuff, all the metro applets, etc. also have to RTM for this to be consumer usable. Lots more moving parts with this release. My guess is July 31st for the client bits as they find last second issues with their own surface. That'll be given to oems who really this time won't be able to ship as fast as they can because the services will still be coming up for a couple months after that. Probably until Halloween.
    Johnny Vegas
    • It was opening IE

      Not trolling ... that was the cause.
  • Well for some

    It's all done, as they won't be paying to hand over more control to Microsoft. So unless Microsoft gets rid of the Metro crap I will never recommend it to anyone I care to hear from again.
    Jumpin Jack Flash
    • I doubt...

      That you would recommend any Microsoft product to anyone you know. But then again I doubt anyone would ask you for your opinion, at least anyone who cares.
      • Then you'd be wong, yet again.

        I have recommended Windows 7, just advised to do a "clean install". Would never recommend Vista, or Window 8. In my opinion (which is at least as valid, as yours is), Metro sucks. Microsoft is, yet again, pushing "change for the sake of change"
        Jumpin Jack Flash
        • What's your beef with Win8?

          I love it, been using the dev prev, cons prev, and now the RC, and think it's fantastic.
          milo ducillo
          • Windows 8?

            Windows 8 was created only because Apple was releasing another OS X operating system in the months before, and to keep up sales at this awful corporation, Microsoft had to do something; hence, Surface, and Windows 8.
    • Re: Well................

      I gave you a + vote which made it only -20 at the time of my vote. I didn't know there were that many techno geeks out there to vote! Ha, Ha!!!!
      To me all the techno geeks are in favor of it, gotta have the newest and greatest. REAL working people that need to get work done DISPISE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
      • That's part of the problem.

        His comment get's hidden. Yet he makes no remarks other than his dislike of Metro.

        When you have to silence your critics, you know the writing is on the wall.
      • It's the....

        [b]Angry Minions of Microsoft[/b] at work. They're afraid that if too many people see through their deception Microsoft may lose the [b]Monopoly Power[/b]. If you thought Microsoft was abusive before, just wait, they're going to be even worse now.
        Jumpin Jack Flash
  • No Pun Intended- Yea Right!!

    "is slated (no pun intended) to debut." It might not have been intended when you first wrote it, but after you did your proofread and left it in, it was intended. DO NOT BE ASHAMED OF GOOD PUNS-They are very Shakesperean. Be proud of good ones and that was pretty good.

    According to one web source on origins of word "pundit"
    "Some believe that the modern use of the word came from a Yale University society called The Pundits. Founded in 1884, the group was known for offering humorous and insightful criticism about contemporary society and politics.

    Notice the word "humorous", so it is perfectly allowable for a "pundit" to use puns. if not a requisite. Even groaners are "humorous" in their own special way.
    • Moses Beacon, anyone?
    • "pundit"

      The word pundit is in all Indian languages and means a person, usually Brahmin, who is learned and knowledgeable. {Probably imported by the British.)
      • I thought that was 'Pandit'

      • @Patanjali

        Both are same
        Ram U
      • Both are correct.

        The term has multiple meanings. Both pundit and pandit are correct, although pundit is more commonly used in the multimedia arena.
      • Nice to see...

        that people are not jsut trolling for trolling sake, and how you started a whole conversation on "pundit"... plus one to you sir!! Oh and everyone else who took part in this.
    • Punny

      The use of "slate" may have appeared to be a pun, but that was only on the surface...
      • dude