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Chief executive officer of Microsoft Corp. said that the company's next-generation Windows operating system would be released in 2012, which is ahead of publicly known schedule, which is officially kept confidential.

"We are obviously hard at work on the next version of Windows. [...] Yet, as we look forward to the next generation of Windows systems, which will come out next year, there is a whole lot more coming. As we progress through the year, you ought to expect to hear a lot about Windows 8. Windows 8 slates, tablets, PCs, a variety of different form factors,: said Steve Ballmer, chief executive officer of Microsoft, during his keynote at Microsoft Developer Forum in Tokyo, Japan.

The comment made by the chief exec of Microsoft once again shows that the release schedule of Windows 8 is hardly set on stone. The world's largest software designer clearly needs an operating system for tablets as soon as possible to better compete against Apple iOS and Google Android platforms.

The creation of the third (M3) milestone phase was supposed to be started in March, 2011. After the M3 is finished, Microsoft is expected to release community technology preview (CTP) version, public Beta-1 and Beta-2, then unveil a release candidate (RC) and after that assemble the final version sometimes in late 2012.

There are ongoing rumours - which are not supported by actual facts - that Microsoft may release a special Windows 8 version for tablets in 2012. Besides, there are rumours that the company plans to show off the user interface of Windows 8 in mid-2011. Although tablets are supported by Windows 8, the operating system for slate-type PCs due next year may not feature all the capabilities of the Windows 8 and thus may carry a different name.

Microsoft did not comment on the story.

Tags: Microsoft, Windows

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