Last we heard in rumor-ville, Microsoft was looking to an October launch timeframe for Windows 8. The wellspring for that rumor: Bloomberg, whose sources added that the launch would support both Intel and ARM chips, though in disproportionate numbers: about five ARM devices, compared with over 40 Intel-based systems. Microsoft was said to "finish" Windows 8 by this summer, followed by an October retail date.
Now we're hearing the Release Candidate — a time-limited version of an operating system that's all but ready to go and occasionally shared with the public as a final test — could hit the streets as early as "the end of May." The claim, made by Windows blog WinUnleaked.tk, is all but absolute in tone: "We know the Release Candidate of Windows 8 will be shared with the public between the end of May to the beginning of June," writes the blog (perhaps they possess extrasensory powers).
But while that claim coincides with the Bloomberg report timing-wise, it offers no sourcing for it, simply making the claim, then embedding a few screens of the operating system with claims the RC will comprise minor user interface changes from the beta (changes, that is, to the Charm bar, the language input menu and the desktop version of Internet Explorer 10).
Don't get the RC confused with the retail launch: The latter's still likely to occur in October, per Bloomberg's as-yet unchallenged report. And that month jibes with analyst assumptions Microsoft wants to be out in front of the holiday window to bring its tablet game to Apple and Google. That, and all of Microsoft's past versions of Windows, from Windows 95 forward, have launched in the late summer or early fall, the only two exceptions being Windows 98 and Windows 2000.
But don't get too excited. Vetting rumors like this gets increasingly problematic as likely launch timeframes near — as they say, even a broken clock's right twice a day. Short of persuasively sourced information surfacing in the immediate future, all eyes are now on early April, when Bloomberg's sources say Microsoft will stage an event to give us the scoop on Windows 8's release timeframe.