After a long wait, Microsoft has scheduled the launch of its much-hyped Windows 8 for the end of October.
And for partners concerned that the launch will squash sales of existing Windows 7 PCs, the vendor is offering customers the option to upgrade to Windows 8 Pro for an additional $14.99. (note: upgrade prices for the UK have not yet been confirmed.)
Speaking at the start of the Microsoft World Partner conference in Toronto, Tami Rellen, corporate vice president of the Windows and Windows Live division at Microsoft, said: “It is so exciting to see how far we have come since we announced Windows 8. Currently we have 50 per cent of enterprise desktops running Windows 7 and we have sold more than 630 million Windows 7 licences to date.
“Windows 8 is on track to RTM in the first week of August and it will reach general availability at the end of October. This means new Windows 8 PCs will be available from 1 October. The wait is almost over.”
The operating system will be available in 109 languages across 231 markets worldwide.
Customers will also receive access to SkyDrive cloud storage with every Windows 8 purchase.
In addition, the vendor announced the launch of its Windows Store, where businesses and users will be able to buy apps tailored to the Windows 8 environment.
And to crown its Windows 8 announcement, the vendor demonstrated its Windows to Go offering – a 32GB USB stick that allows users to carry around their own self-contained Windows 8 installation, which can transform any Windows 7 PC into a Windows 8 PC.
Janet Gibbons, director of strategy and programmes at Microsoft UK, told CRN the launch will generate excellent revenue opportunities for partners.
“Windows 8 is going to be a revenue-creating system and also opens up the visibility of devices and apps. The announcement shows that Windows 8 is not hardware dependent, so customers do not have to replace all their hardware if they are already running Windows 7,” she said.
“Also, XP comes to end of life in 2014 and their hardware will not support Windows 8, so there is a huge installed base that will need to upgrade by buying new hardware. Now is the time to be having conversations with all these customers.”
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