A set of leaked Dell roadmaps seems to show the company planning a tablet based on Windows 8 some time in early 2012. That’s little more than two years after the fall 2009 release of Windows 7.That would be a very fast schedule: Windows 7 took about three years to build, and it was a fairly minor update to Vista. This time, Microsoft has a lot more work to do: it’s building two separate versions of Windows 8 for “system on a chip” architectures from Intel and ARM, which means at least twice as much testing.
The simplest explanation for the January 2012 date is that it’s a proposed (or hoped for) announcement date, not a release date. Dell may be hoping to show off a Windows 8 tablet at CES next January. But the actual delivery could come much later — perhaps by the holiday season in 2012.
There’s some precedent for an early announcement at CES: Microsoft began showing Windows Vista at the January 2006 CES show, but it didn’t ship to manufacturers until that November, and consumers didn’t get to see it until the following January.