The development timeline was passed on to Foley earlier this year by one of her sources, and it shows a tantalising development path for the next big Windows release. As rumours had already stated, milestone 2 was supposedly finalised yesterday or today, with development on the third milestone starting a week from today. This opens the door for a beta release in September of this year, right around Microsoft's Professional Developers Conference.
"Milestone 2, according to the roadmap, took the Windows client team five months. If M3 takes another five months - which it might if it has to go through all the same coding/integration/fixing/lockdown steps as M2 did - that would put its completion date around the end of July," Foley theorises, "Factor in a month or so for any kind of private Community Technology Preview testing, and a beta around the time of this year's Professional Developers Conference - which I'm still hearing is slated for September 2011 - looks downright doable."
That would put the final release of Windows 8 at around mid-2012, which isn't too bad. However, it also means that Microsoft's tablet offering will be a long time coming. While I personally think tablets are way overhyped, fact of the matter is that you need a tablet offering to be cool these days. Microsoft better have something to show for itself quickly, or else it'll find itself in the same position with tablets as they are in with smartphones now.