A set of leaks has given clues as to the timeline for Windows 8. Microsoft has seeded an escrow build as of Friday that suggested it was ready to produce a finished version of Milestone 2, just the second benchmark version of the OS since development began. WinRumors took this as a sign that the third milestone would start in March, to be finished by June and with a beta in the summer.
More detailed information, however, may have come from a roadmap obtained by ZDNet. The schedule supports the timing of Milestone 2 for February 23 and would have development of the third milestone for February 28.
The schedule didn't include dates for Milestone 3, but a similar five month time frame as that on Milestone 2 would put it in late July. Sources did put the very first beta, or feature-complete, version in September in time for Microsoft's Professional Developers Conference.
Dell's Windows 8 tablet, Peju, wasn't cast as a shipping product and wasn't an indication of a final Windows 8 release in January 2012. It was more likely a test vehicle, the insiders said.
Microsoft has never given out a formal timeframe for when Windows 8 would ship, but it has historically followed a three-year pattern whenever there weren't major delays. Windows 7's October 2009 appearance would put Windows 8 in fall 2012 and would give enough time for an extra beta as well as the near-finished release candidates that usually accompany a Windows release.
The OS will be targeted first and foremost at tablets with a much more touch-aware interface as well as the first support for ARM processors. Other rumors have leaned to a focus on gaming as well as a new adaptive, 3D interface.