A prerelease version of Windows 8 will be available "over the coming months," a Microsoft executive said in blog posting late Monday, an indication that partners and customers will have a working prototype of the next generation of Microsoft's operating system for PCs and mobile computers by the end of the year.
Word of the Windows 8 timetable came in a new "Building Windows 8" blog Microsoft launched Monday. Steven Sinofsky, president of the Windows and Windows Live Division, described the new blog as "a chance for us to discuss the details and provide a behind-the-scenes look at the evolution of Windows 8."
"Today we want to begin an open dialog with those of you who will be trying out the prerelease version over the coming months," Sinofsky said in the blog. "We intend to post regularly throughout the development of Windows 8, and to focus on the engineering of the product." Elsewhere in the blog he stated that "in the next few weeks we will just start talking specifics of features" of Windows 8.
The debut of the Building Windows 8 blog comes less than a month before Microsoft's Build conference in Anaheim, Calif., where Sinofsky said the company will "provide developers with more details about the full spectrum of tools and capabilities available to make the most of Windows 8."
"We’ve heard people express frustration over how little we’ve communicated so far about Windows 8," Sinofsky said. "We intend to continue our dialog around performance and fundamental engineering of Windows. The feedback on these topics and the desire to talk about them in depth was clear during the development of Windows 7."
But while promising to be open about the progress of Windows 8, the executive also indicated that the company has been burned in the past by prematurely discussing the capabilities of new products. That included Windows Vista, a product about which Microsoft executives initially promised a great deal in terms of features but didn't deliver on. "We’ve certainly learned lessons over the years about the perils of talking about features before we have a solid understanding of our ability to execute. Our intent with this prerelease blog is to make sure that we have a reasonable degree of confidence in what we talk about, before we talk about it."
Microsoft demonstrated the capabilities of an early version of Windows 8 back in June, showing off the operating system's user interface and running the software on a range of mobile devices.
In the blog Sinofsky repeated promises by Microsoft executives that the company is "100% committed to running the software and supporting the hardware that is compatible with over 400 million Windows 7 licenses already sold and all the Windows 7 yet to be sold."