Microsoft is setting the stage for an October launch of its next-generation operating system, Windows 8, reports Bloomberg. If it doesn't take October by storm, Microsoft could lose out to the competing market.
A part-desktop, part-tablet based operating system, it will launch on Intel and ARM technology, but at a poor ratio with five ARM devices at its debut, compared to more than 40 Intel devices.
The timing is crucial for Microsoft, however. There is just enough of a gap between the new iPad launching no less than seven months after it was launched in May, and sales will be invariably higher for the Christmas holiday season.
Gartner analyst Michael Gartenberg warns Microsoft of getting the time frame just right:
"If they miss the September-October time frame, they’re going to be stuck without being able to ship anything in 2012."
"The last thing Microsoft wants to have is a situation where there are no compelling Windows tablets at a time when the new iPad looks like it’s going to be a good seller for the holidays."
It's a mighty fine point, and timing is everything for Microsoft.
Any less than September and it runs the risk of backdraft from the iPad. With Android's next iteration, dubbed "Jelly Bean" and slated for a fall 2012 release, Microsoft could also face difficulty with consumers and business users wanting an established Android operating system over Windows.
Windows may be the core for business productivity over the years, but for tablets the market has yet to be fully tested. Windows 8 is a game changer or a deal breaker, and it's not clear which one it is yet.
There is all but no doubt that Microsoft will play its chances at the market, but Windows 8 tablets should not be compared to the popularity of the iPad. More than 103 million tablets will be sold this year, rising to 326 million in 2015, according to Gartner. If Apple retains its two-thirds market share lead, Microsoft's venture into tablet computing will all but seem like a failure, even if it generates hundreds of millions in revenue.
ZDNet's Ed Bott sees the general availability of Windows 8 being made available by October. Let's hope he's right, otherwise Microsoft could be stuck between a rock and a hard place. Or, at least in this case, an iPad and an Android crowd.
Image credit: Microsoft.