It has been speculated that Windows 8 were to be launched next yeat. These speculations were based on the release date of the so-called Milestone 3 version of the operating system. Two days ago it seemed clear that Microsoft confirmed this information.

On Monday, at the Microsoft Developer Forum in Tokyo, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, told the developers;

“As we look forward to the next generation of Windows systems, which will come out next year, there’s a whole lot more coming,” according to a transcript of his speech posted to Microsoft’s website.

“As we progress through the year, you ought to expect to hear a lot about Windows 8. Windows 8 slates, tablets, PCs, a variety of different form factors,” he added.

Now a spokesperson for the company, claims that it was a slip of the tongue or a misunderstanding and that Steve Ballmer really was referring to Windows 7.

“We are eagerly awaiting the next generation of Windows 7 hardware that will be available in the coming fiscal year. To date, we have yet to formally announce any timing or naming for the next version of Windows,” said the spokesperson in a statement.

A statement by the processor manufacturer Intel, however, indicates that some hardware manufacturers already have access to early “Windows 8” code.

Market analysts believe that the next generation of Windows will be called Windows 8 and most of them believe that the launch of Windows 8 will be in autumn 2012. Windows 7 was launched in October 2009.

Analyst Michael Cherry of Directions on Microsoft, is skeptical. He believes that the launch will take place at the end of next year or in early 2013.

“I’d love to be proven wrong,” Cherry said, “but this will be a major release. And as they move forward to debug and test, they may have to rethink and change things. Some of those may be fixes of a caliber that are so [significant] that testing has to restart.”

Cherry pointed out what happened with Windows Vista, the operating system that Microsoft essentially had to restart after abandoning much of the work they had already done, because of problems. Vista, which launched in retail in January 2007, was several years late to market because of the restart.

“If this is going to be a true tablet OS, which runs fast, has low power requirements and all the rest, then Microsoft has to get it right the first time,” Cherry said, referring to the anticipated Windows 8 specially designed for tablets.

“They’re coming to the party late, long after Apple and Google, so they have to come in with a really great product, and can’t have any problems or cut features or expectations. They have only one chance.”

(via PCforAlla)