Microsoft officials declined to comment on a post to the company's Dutch news site over the weekend that "Windows 8" -- the release to follow Windows 7 -- will ship in approximately two years.
The statement remained online only briefly before it was pulled, but not before several sites, including Windows enthusiast site Winrumors.com, downloaded it (in Dutch).
The statement appeared in a blog post celebrating Windows 7's first year of consumer availability. An edited version of the blog post still appears on the Dutch site.
Microsoft announced last week that the company had already sold some 240 million Windows 7 licenses worldwide as of Oct. 22, the first anniversary of windows 7's release 2009.
"Microsoft has nothing further to share at this time," a Microsoft spokesperson said regarding the latest disclosures about Windows 8, a response which has almost become a mantra since the first Windows 8 leaks appeared nearly a year ago.
It's not the first time that 2012 has come up as a projected ship date for Windows 8. Presentation slides that emerged from Microsoft's Professional Developers Conference 2009 (PDC) last November, just a month after Windows 7's release, pegged Windows 8 for release in 2012. (PDC 2010 will be held at the company's headquarters Thursday and Friday of this week.)
In June, there was a further leakage of information regarding features planned -- or at least on the wish list -- for Windows 8.
High on the proposed feature list is "instant on" technology that would enable PCs running Windows 8 to start up, or resume from hibernation or other sleep states, in a few seconds rather than the minutes that are required even with Windows 7 today. However, Microsoft has been talking about instant on capabilities for years without much improvement to date.
Other expected features include support for "premium media experiences," as well as USB 3.0 and Bluetooth 3.0 those slides said.
Microsoft officials have said, after the frustrating multi-year wait for Windows Vista, that it would alternate new Windows versions between minor updates every two years or so, and major ones approximately every three years. Because Windows 7 uses much of the same code as Vista, it is considered a minor update, while Windows 8 has been discussed as a major update.
With the current list of potential features that have been disclosed, however, It remains unclear what features would qualify Windows 8 as a major update.
Still, Microsoft executives are reticent to discuss the next release of Windows when its latest version -- Windows 7 -- is just beginning to catch hold in the corporate and enterprise computing space.
Meanwhile, Microsoft customers have been beta testing Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1) since summer and the company plans to release SP1 in the first half of 2011.
Many enterprise IT departments traditionally wait for the first SP to ship before deploying a new Microsoft operating system.