Windows 8 is scheduled to ship in the October 2012 timeframe. The developer preview was released last September, consumer preview was made available this past February and the release preview is targeted for June. The key focus of Windows 8 is merging the desktop and tablet experience and is Microsoft’s response to the iPad. Microsoft has simplified the number of Windows 8 products to four:
- Windows 8: Add new Metro-style start screen, ActiveSync support, mobile broadband
- Windows 8 Pro: adds domain sign-in and group policy management capabilities, BitLocker, virtualization
- Windows 8 Enterprise: adds Window To Go on a USB stick and the ability to deploy Metro applications
- Windows RT: ARM-based version won’t run x86 applications but it will come bundled with Office 15 applications (Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote)
Driven by the consumerization of IT, employees will be bringing Windows 8 to work if they haven’t already. Windows Phone 8, code name Apollo, will be based on the Windows 8 kernel and not on Windows CE like the current version. Enterprise customers will want to explore the benefits of leveraging the two as more details emerge from Microsoft.
Update 6 June 2012: I successfully upgraded to the Windows 8 Release Preview on my laptop. The process took about 30 minutes from start to finish and I had to do a clean install which meant that I had to reinstall my applications. There wasn’t an option to do an in place upgrade
Update 21 September 2012: I did a clean install of the final release of Windows 8 Enterprise 90-day evaluation. This is the same code that will officially ship to customers in October. I also installed Microsoft Office 2013 evaluation. I had no issues installing and both are working well. In addition, the IBM collaboration suite including Lotus Notes, Sametime, Symphony and Connections are running great on Windows 8.