Finally: Microsoft has pinned some real availability dates on Windows 8.
Tami Reller, Corporate Vice President of Windows, told partners attending Microsoft's worldwide partner conference in Toronto that Windows 8 is on track to be released to manufacturing the first week of August, and to be generally available by late October 2012.
Update: This also means that Windows Server 2012 will be released to manufacturing by the first week of August. But the server bits won't be available to customers until September, a July 9 post on the Windows Server blog confirms the RTM date. And as for the "why not until September" question, a company spokesperson said "The products are developed together, but OEM hardware integration and delivery is different across client and server." The spokesperson said for now, officials had nothing further to share.
Reller also said that business users (volume licensees with Software Assurance) will have access to the final Windows 8 bits "as early as the beginning of August." I've asked when TechNet and MSDN users will have access; no word back yet.
Update No. 2: Microsoft officials won't yet say when MSDN/TechNet, BizSpark or DreamSpark users will be able to get their hands on the final bits.
The October general availability date has been rumored for months. A late July RTM date for Windows 8 has been rumored for a while. I still wouldn't be surprised, myself, to see the operating system be declared gold/RTM this month, in keeping with the Windows team's underpromise/overdeliver mantra.
The Windows team's @BuildWindows8 account on Twitter recently repeated that 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.
Update No. 3 (July 10): Microsoft officials are confirming Visual Studio 2012 also will be released to manufacturing by the first week of August. But they are declining to say when developers will be able to get their hands on the bits. (I asked and a spokesperson said no info on that yet.)