The Wait for Windows Begins
Microsoft needs Windows 8 to happen, and fast. Until it becomes available, the company won't be able to make a dent in the tablet market, and won't have a solid upgrade path for Windows Phone 7 users. It also leaves the PC makers doing decent office-class sales on Windows 7, when it really needs a major boost to sell new high-ticket ultra-portables and other sexy hardware.
So, the news that Windows 8 public beta should hit in February 2012 is great in the sense that the sooner there's a beta, the sooner a final edition can hit the shelves. But, that probably leaves another six months or longer until release, unless Microsoft really cranks up the steam valves.
UPDATE: Microsoft will show off the Windows 8 app store at an developer event on December 6. That's the same day that the next version of the Xbox console's new front-end is unveiled. This could be a coincidence or Microsoft is really serious about bring Metro to all its devices, with all Metro apps being sold through the store.
It's Beta For You
With the current developer beta already out and doing the rounds, there is good reason for optimism that Microsoft can get Windows 8 done earlier, which will launch a whole new cycle of Windows upgrades and adoption. Regular updates show features are being added to speed up the operating system and trim down its needs.
However, one area of IT not looking forward to Windows 8 will be the admins who have just installed Windows 7 across their enterprise. Expect Windows 8 to have a consumer-focused launch first and then slowly be introduced to the enterprise.
That way it can appear across tablets, phones and slinky new PCs with instant boot, slick Metro interface that can show off your social messages and emails, important appointments -- all before an old PC had got past the BIOS page. That was the message from September's BUILD conference and it looks like Microsoft will hit most of those lofty goals in good time.