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Windows 8 set for 4th quarter? Fujitsu thinks so

Touting its upcoming notebooks and tablets in a press conference, the company displays a slide that shows a Windows 8 launch destined for "Q4 2012."

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

Windows 8 will hit the market in the fourth quarter, according to a Fujitsu product road map.

Touting its upcoming notebooks and tablets in a press conference yesterday, the company displayed one slide that showed a Win8 launch destined for "Q4 2012." Revealed by Italian blogging site NetbookItalia (English translation), the slide also showed a tablet with a Metro user interface, suggesting that Fujitsu is prepping a Windows 8 tablet for the same time frame.

In fact, as some reports have pointed out, the slide may actually be referring specifically to the debut of the Fujitsu tablet, meaning the new version of Windows could hit the streets before the fourth quarter.

Microsoft has yet to reveal an official launch date for Windows 8. Last May CEO Steve Ballmer mentioned 2012 as the year of Windows 8's debut, though his own company quickly shot him down, calling his comments a "misstatement."

The Windows 8 Consumer Preview, essentially Microsoft's beta edition, will arrive on February 29. Unless Microsoft is forced to make major changes based on user feedback or other issues, it's a safe bet the final version will see the light of day by the end of 2012. But whether that happens in the fourth quarter or closer to the end of summer may still be up in the air.

The actual launch date could even be a moving target at this point based on how quickly Microsoft can ramp up the new OS and how many changes it might need to make before the product is official.

Fujitsu did not immediately respond to CNET's request for comment. A representative for Microsoft said the company has nothing to share at this time.

With its focus on the Metro UI and a touch-based interface, Windows 8 has already touched a nerve among desktop users, who are feeling left out.

Based solely on the Developer Preview released in September, many PC users expressed dismay that the new OS would be less than friendly when used with a simple mouse and keyboard.

In response to user complaints, Microsoft has tweaked some aspects of the Metro UI and other elements. The company has also reminded people that the Developer Preview was just an initial taste of Windows as a work in progress. It's promised that the Consumer Preview and final version will offer greater functionality and ease of use, especially for its loyal PC users.