Microsoft dropped some hints today that the commercial release of Windows 8 could come sooner rather than later, but critics are worried that it's not very business friendly.
Announcing the Windows 8 Release Preview, Microsoft's Steven Sinofsky wrote today in the Building Windows 8 blog that the final version is, at the very least, on track.
"If the feedback and telemetry on Windows 8 and Windows RT match our expectations, then we will enter the final phases of the RTM (release to manufacturing) process in about 2 months," Sinofsky wrote. (Windows RT refers to the version that runs on ARM chips. Windows 8 runs on Intel and AMD processors.)
He continued. "If we are successful in that, then we are tracking to our shared goal of having PCs with Windows 8 and Windows RT available for the holidays."
That's the good news. On the other hand, businesses may not find the upgrade to be satisfying, say observers.
"Virtually all of the major new features in Windows 8 -- the new Windows Runtime, the Metro environment with its full-screen apps, and the all-new developer APIs that drive it all -- are derived solely from the mobile world and Microsoft's experiences building Windows Phone for smartphones," wrote Paul Thurrott at SuperSite for Windows.
Thurrott continued. "It's become increasingly clear that Microsoft doesn't actually expect businesses to upgrade to this new system in any meaningful way."
Thurrott went on to say that it's a "a calculated risk" that allows Microsoft to focus on the consumer market, which it risks losing to Apple and, to some extent, Android.
Another report today cited enterprise developers that are flummoxed by Windows 8.
"I like Metro on a tablet, though I don't see how on a corporate level it's going to work for enterprise business applications. It's a little too simplified. It's too cute," a corporate user told RedmondMag.com.
Microsoft, of course, thinks Windows 8 is great for business and posted a separate blog to address business users today.
"It delivers what today's workforce wants, bringing new possibilities in mobile productivity, end-to-end security, virtualization and management advancements, and the business tablets you've been waiting for," wrote Microsoft's Erwin Visser.
And here are more highlights from Sinofsky's blog today on the Windows 8 Release Preview.
We have a lot of engineers changing a very little bit of code. We often say that shipping a major product means "slowing everything down." Right now we're being very deliberate with every change we make and ensuring our quality is higher than ever as we progress towards RTM. The product is final when it is loaded on new PCs or broadly available for purchase.
RTM itself is a product development phase, rather than a moment in time. We continue to roll out Windows 8 in over 100 different languages and we are preparing final products for different markets around the world. As that process concludes, we are done changing the code and are officially "servicing" Windows 8.
Once we have entered the RTM stage, our partners will begin making their final images and manufacturing PCs, and hardware and software vendors will ready their Windows 8 support and new products. We will also begin to manufacture retail boxes for shipment around the world. We will continue to work with our enterprise customers as well, as we ensure availability of the volume license tools and products.