Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) long-awaited Windows 8 operating system will go on sale Oct. 26, its most critical software upgrade in a decade.
Designed to work on both PCs and tablet computers, Windows 8 is Microsoft's best hope for competing with devices running Google Inc.'s (GOOG) Android operating system and Apple Inc.'s (AAPL) iPad. The Redmond, Wash., company made the announcement in a blog post late Wednesday after Steven Sinofsky, head of Microsoft's Windows team, announced the date at the company's annual sales meeting.
Windows powers nearly a billion PCs world-wide.
To sustain sales of its Windows 7 operating system through October, the company has said buyers of selected versions of Windows 7 through the end of January 2013 will be able to upgrade to a version of Windows 8 Pro at a discount.
Accounting for the promotion will force Microsoft to shift between $450 million and $550 million in revenue to future quarters from the current quarter. The accounting move won't affect cash flow, but shifting that revenue to future quarters will diminish per-share earnings by about five cents in the quarter ended in June.
Microsoft will release those earnings at the close of the market Thursday.
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