Microsoft will finish work on Windows 8 mid year, setting the stage for personal computers and tablets with the operating system to go on sale around October.
The initial rollout will include devices running Intel and ARM chips, making good on Microsoft’s promise to support both standards. In embracing ARM technology, Microsoft is using the same kind of processors as Apple’s iPad. Still, there will be fewer than five ARM devices in the debut, compared with more than 40 Intel machines.
There will be fewer ARM-based devices in the rollout because Microsoft has tightly controlled the number and set rigorous quality-control standards. The new version of Windows will be the first to use ARM processors, which are most commonly found in smartphones. Windows 7, the current version, only works with Intel’s technology.
The timing will let Microsoft target Christmas shoppers with the new software, which works with touch-screen devices as well as laptops and desktop PCs. The Redmond, Washington-based company, which hasn’t announced timing for the Windows 8 release, aims to take back sales lost to the iPad and reinvigorate the sluggish PC market. Apple released the third version of the iPad in March, posing an even stiffer challenge to Microsoft.
More than 103 million tablet devices will be sold in 2012, with sales rising to 326.3 million in 2015, according to Gartner. For now, Apple remains dominant, accounting for two-thirds of the market in 2012, Gartner estimates. The company’s share will drop to 46 per cent by 2015, while Microsoft’s percentage will climb to 11 per cent.