Microsoft has finally confirmed technology's worst kept-secret, there will be a new version of the Windows operating system, and it'll be known as Windows 8.

The operating system was previewed for the first time at its annual Build developer conference, which took place in California, this week. Steve Sinofsky, president of Microsoft's Windows division, described the operating system as a "reimagining of Windows from the chipset to the experience".

UPDATE: Microsoft launched the Consumer Preview of Windows 8 at the Mobile World Congress tradeshow in Barcelona (February 29, 2012).

The tech giant spilled some secrets on the look and functions of Windows 8, and in a bid to avoid even made the Windows 8 Developer Preview available to all web users, in a bid to avoid the debacle seen with Windows 7 when the developer preview was leaked online. However, it failed to answer the big questions on everyone's lips – when is it going to be made available to the public.

See also: Microsoft Windows 8 review

As far back as 2009, Microsoft Kitchen, a blog with the tagline 'Serving up some seriously tasty Microsoft', claimed roadmaps that had apparently been revealed at Microsoft’s Professional Developers' Conference (PDC) indicated the opersating system would land in 2012.

While, in October 2010, Winrumours spotted a blog on Microsoft’s Dutch site that said: "Microsoft is on course for the next version of Windows. But it will take about two years before 'Windows 8' is on the market".

In May this year, that release date was given even more credibility by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer when he said “the next generation of Windows systems, which will come out next year” at a developer's conference in Japan.

A 2012 release would be consistent with previous Microsoft pledges to release a new desktop operating system every three years. Windows 7 was released in October 2009. However, when in 2012 remains to be seen.

Microsoft corporate vice president Dan'l Lewin suggested the OS would be released in Autumn 2012.

"We will be in market - if you look at the crystal ball and just say what happened in the past is a reasonable indicator of what our forward looking timelines will be and just speculate - we've made the point about having a developer conference later this year, and then typically we enter a beta phase, and then in 12 months we're in the market, so let's make that assumption," he said at the LAUNCH event, which took place at Microsoft's Silicon Valley resort, in June this year.

Meanwhile, Mary Jane-Foley from ZDNet claims a to have "received new information from a trusted source that Microsoft is actually on track to release to manufacturing all Windows 8 versions by April 2012". However, she didn't speculate on when the operating system would be made available to consumers.

However, according to the Telegraph unnamed analysts believe Microsoft will aim for the back-to-school season in July next year or the following Christmas at the latest.

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