With Windows 7 poised like a racehorse huffing at the start gate, it's hard to imagine plans for the next version. However, if a leaked roadmap from the Italian Microsoft subsidiary is correct, consumers may see Windows 8 sometimes around 2012. Granted it's easy to doctor a roadmap image using Photoshop and whatnot, a new OS three years from now certainly isn't unlikely.
This blog points out the tilda next to the date, indicating that Microsoft isn't exactly locked on a 2012 deadline, giving the company some breathing room. "That tilda keeps things nice 'n loose for Microsoft's public deadline, but if Windows 7's development is exemplary of how future versions of Windows are to be developed, (2nd half of) 2012 could be considered a worst-case scenario for the delivery of Windows 8 Server," the blog reads.
As pointed out by PC Games Hardware, Microsoft's chief of development Steven Sinofsky introduced a method of planning conservative release dates with Windows 7 to prevent another Windows Vista scenario. With that said, Microsoft may internally target an earlier release date with Windows 8.