Windows 8 To Be Generally Available In Late October

Windows 8

While the release schedule is generally in line with expectations -- October was most cited as the software's expected launch -- word of the definitive release date drew sustained applause at Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference in Toronto Monday morning.

"Windows 8 is simply the biggest deal for our company in [many] years," said CEO Steve Ballmer in his WPC keynote. "It's a huge opportunity for our partners."

[Related: Microsoft WPC: 10 Issues Ballmer & Co. Must Address ]

The Windows 8 schedule was announced by Tami Reller, corporate vice president and CFO of Windows and Windows Live, during her portion of the Monday WPC keynotes.

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Windows 8, which Ballmer and other Microsoft executives have described as a "re-imaging" of the company's flagship product, will run on both desktop PCs and ARM-based devices. It's also the operating system that will power Microsoft's recently unveiled Surface tablet devices.

Jon Roskill, corporate vice president of Microsoft's worldwide channel group, said in closing the morning's keynotes that Microsoft understands that partners need specific availability schedules to make their own business plans. "And now you've got it. You heard it here first."