Software giant Microsoft Corp. (MSFT: Quote) plans to finish work on its new Windows 8 operating system this summer and debut it in October, Bloomberg reported Tuesday, citing people with knowledge of the schedule.
The October roll-out will enable the company to target shoppers during the crucial holiday season.
The new software focuses on optimization for touchscreen hardware, including tablet PCs. The initial roll-out of Windows 8 will reportedly include devices running on chips made by both Intel Corp. (INTC: Quote) and ARM Holdings plc (ARMH: Quote, ARM.L).
ARM processors are most commonly used in smartphones. However, only a handful of the early systems will reportedly be tablets that run the Windows on Arm or WoA version of Windows 8.
According to the Bloomberg report, Microsoft will host an event in early April for industry partners and reveal details of its release strategy, including a specific on-sale date. Microsoft previewed Windows 8 for developers in September 2011.
Windows 7, the current version of the operating software, only works with Intel's technology. Windows 8 features a new Metro-style interface that is designed for touchscreen input.
The new interface will display applications as tiles for quick and easy access, while also allowing users to toggle back to a classic Windows look.
The new software is expected to give a boost to sluggish sales in the PC market. A consumer preview version of Windows 8, released in February, reportedly saw more than 1 million downloads in its first day.
Microsoft, whose software still runs more than 90 percent of the world's personal computers, is looking for Windows 8 to improve its foothold in the smartphone and tablet markets.
Revenue for the company's windows and windows live division has fallen year-over-year for four of the last five consecutive quarters, reflecting weak PC trends.
The arrival of Apple Inc.'s (AAPL: Quote) iPad and other tablet PCs has apparently hurt sales of netbooks as well as notebooks. Earlier this month, Apple unveiled the third and latest version of the iPad.
According to analysts, Microsoft's sales in 2012 would be badly hit if the company fails to launch Windows 8 in the September-October time frame. The launch of devices running on the new software in time for the 2012 holiday season will enable the company to better compete with Apple's new iPad.
It may be recalled that Microsoft's Windows Vista missed the 2006 holiday selling season when it fell behind schedule and shipped only in January 2007.
MSFT closed Tuesday's trading at $31.99, down $0.21 on a volume of 41.55 million shares. In Wednesday's pre-market, the stock is adding $0.04 or 0.13 percent to $32.03.
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by RTT Staff Writer
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