Microsoft backed away from comments made by CEO Steve Ballmer, who had told Japanese software developers that the next version of Windows would be dubbed Windows 8, and that it would launch in 2012.
"It appears there was a misstatement," a Microsoft spokesperson said in a statement the company issued. "We are eagerly awaiting the next generation of Windows 7 hardware that will be available in the coming fiscal year. To date, we have yet to formally announce any timing or naming for the next version of Windows."
According to a transcript of his Monday speech made available by Microsoft, Ballmer said Monday that, "as we look forward to the next generation of Windows systems, which will come out next year, there's a whole lot more coming. As we progress through the year, you ought to expect to hear a lot about Windows 8. Windows 8 slates, tablets, PCs, a variety of different form factors."
Microsoft often keeps a tight lid on its products' names. In 2008, for instance, Microsoft didn't officially label the next edition as "Windows 7" until just weeks before it debuted an early build to developers, even though it had used that moniker for months as a code name.
Windows 8 probably launch in late 2012 or early 2013
Michael Cherry, an analyst with Kirkland, Wash.-based Directions on Microsoft, wondered exactly what part of Ballmer's comments Monday were misstatements. "Was it the name, Windows 8?" Cherry asked. "Or was it [the release in] 2012? Sometimes this is like being a soothsayer, pulling apart the entrails of animals."
Another hint, Cherry said, was the announcement that Steven Sinofsky, the Microsoft executive who heads up the Windows group, will be at the All Things Digital conference that runs May 31 to June 2.
"I think Microsoft will use that to show us that they're making progress on Windows 8," said Cherry. "In January at CES, Microsoft showed a bit of Windows 8, but it was held together with alligator clips and duct tape. Sinofsky will probably demonstrate a more polished package, and show us enough to prove progress."
But even with those tidbits, Cherry said he would wait until PDC, when he expects Microsoft will provide all developers an early version of Windows 8, to make a more precise call on whether the next OS will ship next year.