The next iteration of the Windows client, and the successor of Windows 7, might be closer than anyone thinks, according to information leaked by a Microsoft employee. Windows 8 could be made available in the second half of 2011, according to information made public by Chris Green, a Microsoft developer focused on Systems Integration, Windows/UNIX and .Net/Java interoperability and High Performance Computing. Green revealed that Windows 8 could now be less than two years away, with the release to manufacturing date set by the end of 2011.
At the start of December 2009, Green published what he referred to as a “graphical view of the publicly available product support lifecycle information.” The resource in question mentions Windows 8, the next version of the Windows client, Windows Server 2012, the next generation of Windows Server, and additional Microsoft technologies both released or in planning, along with RTM dates, and information about Mainstream and Extended support. The “Estimated Product Support Life Cycles” PDF has since then been taken down, but its validity is incontestable. Users can still access the information from the Bing cache, or download it via this link. (via Ma-Config)
Windows 8 is reportedly planned for RTM on Friday, July 1, 2011 (1/07/11), with Mainstream support kicking in at the same date Friday, July 1, 2011 and lasting throughout Thursday, July 1, 2016 (Fri 1/07/16). Following Mainstream support, Windows 8 will enter the Extended support phase, from Friday, July 1, 2016 to Thursday, July 1, 2021.
The document also mentions Windows 8 Server (Windows Server 8), or how the platform will most likely be labeled Windows Server 2012. Although Windows 8 client and Windows 8 Server will be joined at the hip just as Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2, Microsoft plans to RTM Windows Server 2012 on Monday, July 2, 2012 (2/07/12) a year after Windows 8. Windows Server 2012 will benefit from Mainstream support from Monday, July 2, 2012 until Friday, June 30, 2017, and from Extended support: Monday, July 3, 2017 – Friday, July 1, 2022.
Microsoft has yet to confirm or deny the legitimacy, or relevance of the dates included in this document. However, even without an official position from the Redmond company users should take the deadlines with a grain of salt. Green notes himself in the document that the information is likely to contain errors.
Still, Microsoft is already hard at work planning Windows 8 and Windows 8 Server, and has been for quite a while, with the first reports of the company’s efforts in this regard, emerging approximately half a year ahead of the finalization of Windows 7. The software giant won’t say just how advanced is the Windows 8 development process, whether planning has already left room to actual coding, but the company has shifted focus away from Windows 7, that much is clear. Depending on how evolved is the development process at this stage, Windows 8 could be wrapped up and offered by the end of 2011, although most probably it will be released in 2012.