Microsoft may be on track to have Windows 8 ready-to-manufacturers by April 2012. (Jonathan Alcorn/BLOOMBERG)

Foley also heard that the company will be releasing a beta build of its next operating system by mid-September, in time for its Build Conference.

Relying on her expertise, Foley offered a few facts to consider when addressing these tips. For one, she said, the Windows 8 team is staying mum on a release date, saying only that the final version will come 24 to 36 months after Windows 7, but not specifying whether that means the July 2009 RTM date or the October RTM launch.

Second, Foley said that Microsoft often builds in some extra time into its target dates and supposes that the summer 2012 release that’s been expected since the operating system was announced may have had that extra wiggle room.

Windows 8, which takes several cues from its mobile platform and will be for both tablets and desktop computers, will have multitasking, the ability to snap and resize an application, and a user-friendly file system, said Julie Larson-Green, vice president of Windows Experience, in a company blog post this month.

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