What are the chances that Windows 8 will be available to consumers in approximately a year, no later than the first quarter of 2012?
This is what fresh leaked information from one of Microsoft’s top OEM partners, Dell seems to suggest.
According to leaks provided by Android Central, Dell is planning to release a Windows 8 Tablet PC sometime between January and March 2012.
The slate is referred to under the codename Peju in a Dell Tablet Roadmap that managed to make its way in the wild.
Of course, there isn’t any official confirmation of this from either Dell or Microsoft, so the info needs to be taken with a grain of salt, at least.
Even the most optimistic estimates related to the general availability of Windows 8 don’t have the successor of Windows 7 on the market until just ahead of the 2012 holiday season.
In fact, there are even forecasts that place Windows 8 GA sometime in early 2013, even though the OS would have been finalized by the end of next year.
So, how can Dell release the codenamed Peju Tablet powered by Windows 8 by March 2012?
According to sources close to Microsoft, the software giant is pushing Windows 8 to the Milestone 3 (M3) stage of the development process, a point which it has yet to reach.
Only then will the company provide the first Beta of the next major iteration of Windows, which will reportedly be followed by a Beta 2 Build.
After this the development process will progress much in the same manner as it did for Windows 7, namely with a Release Candidate (RC) and then with the release to Manufacturing (RTM) Builds.
Factor in the months that it takes Microsoft to jump from one pre-release Build to another, and Q1 2012 just seems an unrealistic date.
Unless… There will be a special flavor of Windows 8 tailored to slates. Let’s call it Windows 8 Tablet PC SKU.
In order to run on slates, the Windows 8 Tablet PC SKU would not need to be the full Windows 8 client, but a stripped down, core version of the operating system, designed specifically for content consumption scenarios, and with less focus on actual productivity.
It will still be Windows 8, but think of it much in the same manner as the Ultimate edition vs. Home Premium. There are certainly elements in the Ultimate SKU that are completely useless to tablet PC users.
This could very well mean that Microsoft might be able to pull off a Windows 8 Tablet PC SKU release ahead of the rest of Windows 8. After all, per the Windows 7 model, Windows 8 will be feature complete once it hits Beta, later this year.
And in the context of a collaboration with Dell, and other OEMs, this flavor of Windows 8 will only be available to original equipment manufacturers, which can adapt it to their devices, and not to all end users.
And then again, it might just be a miscommunication from Dell, nothing more than a spelling error in the Tablet Roadmap, after all, “8” is awfully close to “7” on any keyboard, and codenamed Peju could end up as just a Windows 7 slate.