After noting that the next fiscal year -- which runs July 1, 2012, to June 30, 2013 -- will include an "unprecedented refresh" of the company's core products, Klein was upbeat about Windows 8, even though customers have seen only a beta of the desktop version and nothing at all on ARM.
"With Windows 8 and its availability on both x86 and ARM, we believe the ecosystem will capitalize on the new range of capabilities and scenarios Windows 8 enable," said Klein in prepared remarks.
Although executives divulged no new information about Windows 8's release date during yesterday's conference call, Bill Koefoed, the general manager of Microsoft's investor relations, said that the development of Windows 8 and Windows RT -- the official name for the version designed for ARM processors -- is "on our schedule."
Klein dodged a question from one analyst about revenue swings later this year caused by Windows 8 upgrade giveaways. "We haven't said anything and will not today, but we'll have more to talk about in terms of programs and promotions as we get closer to the launch date," Klein said.
With Windows 7, Microsoft offered free or nearly free upgrades to people who purchased a new Vista PC in the months before and after its launch. The company also aggressively discounted Windows 7 upgrades during a two-week pre-sale period. Microsoft may repeat one or both of those promotions with Windows 8.
If it does, the deals will impact the bottom line: Two years ago, Microsoft deferred $1.7 billion in revenue to account for the Windows 7 upgrades due Vista PC buyers.
Klein also sidestepped a question about whether Windows XP's looming retirement will create additional incentive to upgrade to Windows 7, or even Windows 8, and accelerate sales of those editions. "Obviously, it's high on the priority list for CIOs to upgrade their business desktop [from XP]," said Klein. "Exactly how that will play out over the next couple of years is hard to say."
XP will fall off Microsoft's support list in early April 2014.
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