Windows 8 roadmap: A picture is worth a thousand build numbers

Windows 8 roadmap: A picture is worth a thousand build numbers

Summary: Given the very few (and occasionally confusing) leaks around Windows 8, an update as to how things are progressing is always welcome. Here's a slide from a source of mine that is allegedly a snippet from the Microsoft internal Win 8 Milestone build timeline.


Given the very few (and occasionally confusing) leaks around Windows 8, an update as to how things are progressing is always welcome.

In early 2011, a source of mine passed on to me what he claimed was a snapshot of the internal Windows 8 roadmap. On that roadmap snippet are a lot of alleged internal dates for Windows 8 Milestone 2, the second of what are expected to be three major internal builds of Windows 8. I showed off this roadmap during a ZDNet Webcast I did recently on Windows 8 and slates (which is available for listening as a free, on-demand file).

Here is the Windows 8 roadmap slide I showed off, for those who missed it:

(click on image above to enlarge)

What's interesting to me is how closely this roadmap snippet seems to be mirroring the timelines and build information from a few sites and sources claiming access to leaked Win 8 builds. On February 21, there were reports that Microsoft was just about done with Win 8 Milestone 2. On the roadmap above, final M2 build candidate is slated to arrive on February 23. And according to the roadmap above, the coding for Milestone 3 (M3) is due to start a week from today, on February 28.

Milestone 2, according to the roadmap, took the Windows client team five months. If M3 takes another five months -- which it might if it has to go through all the same coding/integration/fixing/lockdown steps as M2 did -- that would put its completion date around the end of July. Factor in a month or so for any kind of private Community Technology Preview (CTP) testing, and a beta around the time of this year's Professional Developers Conference -- which I'm still hearing is slated for September 2011 -- looks downright doable.

The Windows client team, as you might expect, isn't commenting on any timetables, build numbers, roadmaps or anything else pertaining to Windows 8 or Windows Next. (I tried using the Microsoft-favored "Win Next" just to see if I could muster a comment. No go.)

Microsoft execs also are not commenting on an alleged Dell roadmap leak from last week, which made it appear as if Dell will have a Windows 8 tablet ready in time for January 2012. While I wondered aloud last week (as did at least one Wall Street analyst) whether that meant Microsoft might be further along with Win 8 for systems-on-a-chip (SoC) processors than many of us previously believed, I've heard since that probably isn't the case. That would mean the Dell "Peju" Win 8 tablet could be nothing but a demo machine for select developers ... and maybe a debut at a Consumer Electronics Show (CES) keynote (?)...

In any case, if Microsoft does follow history and deliver a Win 8 Beta 1, Beta 2 and Release Candidate before RTMing, Windows 8 is looking like a mid-2012 RTM. The Windows 8 train seems to be running on time -- just like the Win 7 one did.

Topics: Operating Systems, Software, 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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  • Why would Dell have a demo unit ...

    ... on a chart of final products? Also Win 7 tablets look as if they will be too expensive for consumers, leaving MS without an answer to iOS and Android tablets for over a year. Win 8 tablets (or a MS tablet solution for consumers) need to be out ASAP. If MS demos Win 8 slates this year, and has Win 8 slates released early next year, it has a chance of staving off a tablet assault from its competition. Otherwise MS' Windows business is going to get hammered by Android et al.
    P. Douglas
    • RE: Windows 8 roadmap: A picture is worth a thousand build numbers

      @P. Douglas

      It's not that Microsoft needs an anser to Android and iOS. It's that Android and iOS do not have an answer to the PC.

      Most people have a PC + iPad. They don't have an iPad instead of a PC. As soon as PCs can do what iOS and Android tablets can do as far as experience. Then there is no contest...

      You can easily justify the cost of something you *need* as opposed to a "gadget". That's why game consoles have to cost under $300 to remain competitive while PCs can go for 1k, 2k,3k.

      If Apple put Mac OS on an iPad then we would be having a different conversation.
      • RE: Windows 8 roadmap: A picture is worth a thousand build numbers

        Yes, but the iPad will replace that second and third PC in many, many households and businesses.
        1. They'll keep the primary desktop PC but instead of buying laptops or another desktop, they will just buy an iPad or Android slate.
        2. Businesses are using iPads in all kinds of creative ways that would never work with PCs or be very cumbersome with PCs--in-flight entertainment systems, auto entertainment systems, POS systems (iPod touch touch), home security control, home theater control, etc. Car dealerships are using them for sales or even user manuals, pro audio companies are figuring out all kinds of control, and diagnostic solutions with iPads. Hospitals are replacing the bulky, battery-sucking touch-screen PCs with iPads. Colleges are putting entire curriculums and books on iPads along with podcasts of the lectures.

        And apparently a $500 slate was competitive enough to sell 15 million units the first nine months. And btw, Apple does have an answer to the PC, it is called the Mac, which has been outgrowing the PC market for several quarters and more importantly, taking the most profitable segment of the PC market.

        Now the iPad is taking the sub-$1000 part of the PC market.
      • RE: Windows 8 roadmap: A picture is worth a thousand build numbers


        Sorry... All things being equal (touch interface, form factor, etc.) when it comes to the buisinesses, there is no competition between a tablet running full Windows and a tablet running a mobile OS.

        We're not talking consumers playing games and fart apps, we're talking businesses that have no problems dropping extra $$$ to get the security, networking, interoperability, enterprise management and compete integration of MS Office (which the entire business world runs on).

        I hate to break it to people, but the entire world still runs on PCs and Laptops (15 million compared to nearly a couple billion) . If you can get all the awesomness of a multi-touch slate as well as have access to *everything* you can do on a PC/Laptop most people (not all of course) will choose that over a mobile OS any day.

        Not to mention the many different form factors it will come in simply because you can install it whereever you want. Think entire multi-touch tables in conference rooms. Multi-touch projections on walls and windows. Multi-touch monitors, kiosks in retail. Stylis input for students, artists, and graphics designers (There has never been adquate support for this in the iOS/Android world).

        There's a much bigger picture here than just "cool gadget of the week"...
      • RE: Windows 8 roadmap: A picture is worth a thousand build numbers


        I just dropped over $6500 for a custom built high end gaming oriented PC. Intel i7 980X 3.33 GHz CPU liquid cooled, 24 GB RAM, 2 GeForce GTX Fermi 580s w/1536 MB, 1250 watt power supply, eVGA SLI3 MB, Blu Ray and standard DVD units, 160 MB primary SSD, 1.5 TB secondary and a host of other things.

        And Windows 7 finally.
      • All things being equal?

        @oolong2... All things are not equal. How many Windows Slates with Multi-touch, long battery life >8hrs, do you see, with a simple to use interface, and an on-board app store, and weighs less than 2lbs?? Oh that's right it is coming in 2012, right along with the end of the Mayan Calendar. It has taken MSFT 4yrs to come up with something to challenge the iPhone/Android.

        I have worked with netbooks running Atom processors and Windows on them, if that is what MSFT views as an answer, well I can tell you I would rather either have a full laptop or a Slate with iOS or Android on it, than wait the half a week it takes for this Atom device to boot Windows.
      • RE: Windows 8 roadmap: A picture is worth a thousand build numbers

        Hmmm you say most people have a pc and ipad well not really. most people who have pcs dont have ipads as pc user demand more useability for thier money and the ipad simple stated just doesn't do much for $600. It really makes no sense to buy an ipad if you have a laptop or smartphone as both do 50 times as much as an ipad and cost a third the price.Now if the Ipad came with android on it and the specs were bumped up to at least a very minimal amount of needs then the ipad might be useful but in current stae the ipad is a paperweight.
      • RE: Windows 8 roadmap: A picture is worth a thousand build numbers

        @oolong2 - I am very anxious to get a Win7 tablet. Can't wait. But I am a geek of long standing who actually enjoyed assembly language programming back in the day. I will put up with a LOT in what I use. I don't have faith that the average consumer will be that patient. I do agree with everything you are saying about apps and usage, but I will be very surprised if Win7 tablets get much traction outside of niche markets and the Fortune 500. This will keep them in the game at least until Win8, but I think it is going to take at least that long before we see Best Buy dropping iPad shelf space for Asus and Acer Windows tablets (not so sure about Android pads, though...).
      • The spanner...

        Cloud computing and VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure) solutions are really taking a firm hold in the corporate world.

        Connecting to a virtual desktop from an iPad gives you all the security \ interoperability \ software you need but gives the users what they want (and let's face it - they do want iPads).

        The TCO on remote desktops \ iOS devices (easy restore of OS for problems) solutions means that they (and similar Android \ other tablet devices) will become the norm and fat clients the niche.

        If you don't believe me, check out the Citix reciever app and then checkout how many jobs are available for people with VMware \ virtualisation \ Citrix Zen Desktop skills there are...

        Thin is the new phat ;-)
      • Ancient Wisdom...

        The early bird gets the worm - but the [b]SECOND[/b] mouse gets the cheese...
      • RE: Windows 8 roadmap: A picture is worth a thousand build numbers

        @oolong2 <br><br>I bet MS had the same mind set with their Smart-phones a few years back and look at them now, struggling for relevance in the mobile market. Your thinking is out dated, people are working differently these days. <br><br>The PC continues to be a very important piece of the data landscape and many homes have 2, 3 or more of them. This is changing rapidly, you will see homes moving to less computers and more pad type devises. It is happening already, net-book sales are being cannibalized by iPads. As this pads become more powerful and proficient the PC will becomes less and less of a necessity. <br><br>My wife, who was a heavy PC user, rarely touches her Laptop since we bought an iPad. Like it or not this is the future and MS with its current approach is moving slowly to irrelevance.
      • RE: Windows 8 roadmap: A picture is worth a thousand build numbers

        @oolong2 while true, keep in mind that the average PC sold in the USA went for just under $500 in recent quarters. Tablets offering less will not sustainably sell for more.. except maybe Apple. And that's because they have sucessfully built the Apple brand as a high-end, exclusive club thing. Like buying a Mercedes.

        This goes for both x86 and ARM tablets, both of which are largely overpriced today. There is no good reason from the tech view that a tablet need cost more that a similar laptop or netbook. In fact, ARM tablets cost less to make than most Netbooks. They sell high now, due to inflation I price by Apple and by cellular bundling artificial price structures. This is not sustainable for long.

        Windows tabs in particular have a problem. ARM tablets all offer best in class performance, versus cellphone or PMP/PDA format devices running the same mobile OS. But PC tabs are either worst-in-class performers, or they fail on battery life. A good tablet needs a good day's worth of active use, 8-10 hours of video play, minimum, etc. And that, on a battery about half the size of that of a moderate laptop. This is a weight concern, but also another reason tablets are clearly overpriced today, same with other resources: cheaper CPU/SOC, less RAM, less mass storage, cheaper LCD, etc.
      • RE: Windows 8 roadmap: A picture is worth a thousand build numbers


        How can you expect to use a device that does not even have a File explorer is beyond me.
    • More ancient wisdom


      The early bird gets the worm -- but the patient coyote who waits can have them both.

      Until the real mobile PC form factor appears, the rest of these tablets are but mere toys:

      Computers with training wheels that can't be removed.

      Businesses have not yet satisfactorily resolved authentication and security issues associated with iPads. Stuff like SSO (Single Sign On) via LDAP (Kerberos) Active Directory.

      Until then, all current tablets iOS & Android are mere dumbed down terminals with very little serious use except for home end-users with simple basic & limited requirements.

      Letting your customers set your standards is a dangerous game, [b]because the race to the bottom is pretty easy to win[/b]. Setting your own standards, and living up to them, is a better way to profit.
      ~ Seth Godin[/i]
      • RE: Windows 8 roadmap: A picture is worth a thousand build numbers

        Have to agree - coincides with the path in my business.
        For most business folks, they are looking at the iPad for the same functionality they received from their Blackberry, just a bit prettier and a bit more functional.
        Not a pc, just a bigger device for current BB functions.
  • Beta 2s are a thing of the past...

    The past product releases and updates are examples:
    - Windows 7 BETA > RC > RTM
    - Windows 7 SP1 BETA > RC > RTW
    - Internet Explorer 9 BETA > RC > Duh

    So, I can expect the same for Windows Next. I suspect we will likely see a Pre-release preview at PDC 11, followed by a beta, but probably with a much shorter test cycle. Windows 7 Beta and RC were absolutely drawn out for no reason. It was pretty much baked at Beta and refined at RC.
    Mr. Dee
    • RE: Windows 8 roadmap: A picture is worth a thousand build numbers

      @Mr. Dee
      The reason was a very good one...code named Vista....Microsoft had to make sure that by the time Windows 7 reached the masses, it was very refined. Indeed, it was very much refined for the initial public release of an OS.
  • Exciting stuff!

    Thanks for sharing, MJ!

    When the time comes, Microsoft will dominate tablets:

    iPad isn't good enough to replace laptops, not even close, it's a toy.

    You can already have a full-power PC in tablet form, like the Asus Eee Slate.

    Windows 8 will define expectations of tablet devices.

    Apple brought a knife to a gun-fight.
    Tim Acheson
    • RE: Windows 8 roadmap: A picture is worth a thousand build numbers

      @Tim Acheson
      How lame. Microsoft was pushing tablets for years and guess what? Hardly anyone wanted them. Certainly not consumers. Those Windows tablets definitely weren't toys, but so what. Almost nobody used them except some IT Windows lapdogs and some card-carrying fanboi consumers. So what's all this supposed magic from Microsoft all of a sudden? You're just talking about a vaporware product at this point in time. There's no guarantee it won't be the next Microsoft Vista. By the time this Microsoft 8 hits the streets, everyone and their mother will be using iPads and won't even consider changing from a light tablet OS to some bloated dog of an OS like Windows, which will likely carry the ghosts of devices past (legacy support). If Microsoft had any sense at all, they would have expanded upon WP7 and gone with that for a tablet. A Windows tablet is the answer to a question that only a handful of Ballmer-loving fanbois asked.
      • RE: Windows 8 roadmap: A picture is worth a thousand build numbers

        @ConstableOdo Sheesh! Talk about revisionism...

        Microsoft first introduced XP Tablet Edition in 2003. That's 8 years of software development and experience they've had. As a 'tablet' user since 2003 (I need Japanese and Mandarin handwriting) I find that by FAR the two best apps for tablets are OneNote and Photoshop. Neither Apple nor Google can even do basic handwriting, let alone Chinese handwriting. Photoshop on iPad? Laughable. It can't even do Flash.

        There's more to the world than the USA and there are 450 million Windows users in China alone. The world doesn't stop at the Golden Gate. Some countries in the world need more than English language and QWERT keyboard. Apple's products have bombed in Asia for precisely this reason.
        Major Plonquer