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Windows 8 reportedly set for October debut

Bloomberg reports that Microsoft will release the final version of the upcoming operating system to manufacturers this summer, leading to a pre-Christmas launch.

Windows 8 Start screen

Microsoft reportedly will finish work on Windows 8 by summer, setting the stage to release the next version of its flagship operating system sometime around October.

Bloomberg, citing "people with knowledge of the schedule," also reports that there will be fewer than five devices running the ARM system-on-a-chip architecture at launch. Those ARM chips allow for thinner, lighter tablet devices, something that Microsoft hopes will help it cut into Apple's iPad's huge lead in the tablet market. The Cupertino rival just disclosed that it sold more than 3 million of its latest iPad since the third-generation gadget debuted Friday.

The report confirms the timing that most analysts have been expecting. Bloomberg notes that Microsoft will lay out the details of the release schedule at an industry event in early April.

A Microsoft spokeswoman declined comment on the report.

Last month, Microsoft said it planned to release a version of Windows 8 on ARM chips at the same time it launched Windows for the x86 chips that power traditional PCs. In a blog post at the time, Windows President Steven Sinofsky said "our collective goal is for PC makers to ship [Windows on ARM devices] the same time" as more conventional Windows PCs debut.

Having fewer than five devices, though, would offer consumers only slight alternatives to Apple's hugely popular iPad. That said, some Microsoft partner may also make tablets running x86 chips, though those devices would likely be bulkier than iPads and the ARM-powered Windows 8 gadgets.

Bloomberg also reported that more than 40 computers running the x86 architecture will be ready for the Windows 8 launch.