What's next for Windows 8?

Mapping out the next big Windows 8 release milestones.

Richard Peterson/CNET

We've seen a flurry of Windows 8 PC announcements over the last week or two, most recently with Microsoft opening the gates to Windows 8 preorders this morning. The calendar still has a few big Windows 8-related events on it, though, so here's what you can look forward to over the next few weeks.

October 12: Microsoft begins taking preorders for the standalone retail version of its new operating system, Windows 8 Pro. Preorders for full Windows 8 PCs also begin from Acer, Dell, HP, Sony, and other major system vendors.

October 21:Windows Phone 8 devices available for preorder. You can put your name down for the Nokia Lumia 920, the HTC Windows Phone 8X, as well as the Windows RT-equipped Samsung Ativ Smart PC tablet, and the Asus Vivo Tab RT.

October 25: Microsoft hosts its Windows 8 launch event in New York. With little left for Microsoft to announce about Windows 8, the tone of the day should be more coming-out party than news event.

October 26: Windows 8 is officially available to consumers. Customers should begin receiving preordered units, Windows 8 upgrade and full OS downloads go live, and retail stores, including 30 Microsoft-run pop-up outlets, can finally take the wraps off of Windows 8 PCs.

October 29:Launch event for Windows Phone 8. Microsoft kicks off its new mobile OS with a San Francisco launch event. In terms of exact availability, the wireless carriers have only specified "November" for the first batch of phones.

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