My second thought: Is this sour grapes? I wonder whether Otellini is trying to soften the blow when ARM-based systems come out of the gate beating Intel Atom ones on battery life, performance and other specs... But that's just pure speculation on my part, since none of us independent reviewer types have gotten any real hands-on time with ARM-based Windows RT PCs or tablets at this point.
Microsoft, predictably, isn't conceding anything. A company spokesperson sent me the official statement that's going out to all reporters asking about Otellini's alleged remarks:
“With over 16 million active preview participants, Windows 8 is the most tested, reviewed and ready operating system in Microsoft’s history. We’re looking forward to making Windows 8 available to the world on October 26th.”
All that said, I'm not giving Microsoft a blanket hall pass on this one.
Windows 8 is more like a brand-new operating system, rather than a fairly minor update to an older version of Windows -- like Windows 7 was/is. It's going to take some time for drivers to materialize; for applications optimized for it to make their debut. And without more help and how-to guidance -- beyond a very short navigational tutorial built into the OS -- many users are going to call Windows 8 buggy and unstable just because it is very different and unfamiliar.
As I've said repeatedly, I'm skeptical about how well Windows 8 will be received by less-technical users and consumers when it "launches" on October 25. (More tech-savvy users already have had access to the final bits since August.) I don't consider Windows 8 the best choice for non-touch PCs and laptops; I think Windows 7 is the better option on those systems. I'm hoping Windows 8 and Windows RT work well on the new generation of hardware optimized for the operating system that will start shipping this fall.
I'm not the only one saying this, by the way. Even though there've been positive reviews of Windows 8, there has been plenty of criticism, too. I don't think CEO Steve Ballmer will have a leg to stand on, this time around, if he tries to claim the beta testers didn't warn him about Windows 8 -- something he said after Vista made a very bad showing.
So what's your take? Did Microsoft declare Windows 8 "done" too early? Would waiting another month or three -- leading to the company missing holiday 2012 -- have made a difference?