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

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.