Cast your vote in the Windows 8 release schedule prediction pool

It's that time again. The Windows 8 beta, er, Consumer Preview will be ready in late February. Think you can guess what's next? Cast your vote in the Windows 8 Release Schedule Prediction Pool.
Written by Ed Bott, Senior Contributing Editor

I'm officially announcing the opening of the Windows 8 Release Schedule Pool.

Where does the time go? Has it really been three years since the last one? Yikes.

The Windows 8 beta will be available in late February, says Microsoft.  They have said so repeatedly, in fact. At CES, I lost count of the number of times I heard the phrase "late February," in Steve Ballmer's keynote address and in one-on-one conversations with various Microsoft employees. (My colleague Mary Jo Foley says the beta will be called the Consumer Preview edition, and her reasoning makes sense.)

The fact that everyone is staying so tightly on message about the timeframe indicates a high level of confidence in that date. This is a leap year, so the public could be forced to wait until the 29th. But I'm putting my money on Monday, February 20, and gearing up accordingly.

Guessing the date when you'll be able to download the beta shouldn't be too hard. So let's raise the stakes a bit.

After the beta comes a single release candidate, followed by a release to manufacturing, and finally by general availability. That's the roadmap Steven Sinofsky laid out last September at the BUILD conference, adding:

We are going to focus our team, and our energy on first delivering the beta for everybody, and that will be a beta, which is designed for more broad use. And we're going to be driven by the quality and not by a date.

Note: I am talking about the x86/x64 product only. I expect the ARM version to be tied to hardware and probably not available for download. That's a subject (and a prediction pool) for another post.

So go ahead and take your best shot. What do you think the Windows 8 schedule will look like?

For reference, here were the corresponding dates for Windows 7. Note that these are the dates when the public (or some segment of it) was officially able to download the corresponding release from Microsoft's servers:

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

Rules are the usual: Post in the Talkback section below. You need to pick a specific month and date for each milestone. In case of a tie, the earlier comment wins. All entries must be submitted by the end of the day on February 14.

Here are my guesses, to get it started. Remember, these are the dates when the actual code itself is available to the public (or a segment of the public, such as MSDN and TechNet subscribers and Volume License customers)

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

Right now the Windows 8 schedule is running about six weeks behind the Windows 7 pace. But I suspect the gap between RTM and GA can be cut considerably, because OEM partners are better prepared for this release. The current crop of Ultrabooks, for example, should be ideal candidates for Windows 8.

Leave your guesses below. Winner gets bragging rights and any swag I can rustle up.


Here's how it went last time around:

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