Microsoft officially announced Monday that it will launch its next operating system, Windows 8, in late October. The release to manufacturing (RTM) edition of Windows 8 will be available in the first week of August, CFO Tami Reller said.

The October launch date coincides with the period when Microsoft's hardware partners will begin shipping their PCs, tablets and hybrid devices that will run the new operating system. The release schedule also falls in line with predictions from critics and analysts, such as ComputerWorld, which has said the software will be available Oct. 25.

The RTM stage confirms that Windows 8 is completed and ready to send to original equipment manufacturers, such as Hewlett-Packard, Dell and Lenovo. Some have previously indicated that the RTM launch would be announced at Microsoft's Global eXchange (MGX) event, which will run July 17 through 20 in Atlanta.

Windows 8 is on track to RTM the first week of August, Reller said in Monday's keynote at Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) in Toronto. And Windows 8 will reach general availability at the end of October.

The announcement confirms the company's promise in May that the RTM would be ready within two months. Microsoft has been perfecting its final builds to Windows 8, and a Windows Phone 8 is also expected to launch in October, close to the operating's system's debut.

Some speculate that hardware manufacturers could get their hands on the software even sooner than early August.

I still wouldn't be surprised, myself, to see the operating system be declared gold/RTM this month, in keeping with the Windows team's underpromise/overdeliver mantra, writes Mary Jo Foley of ZDNet.

Reller also announced that Microsoft has sold 630 million Windows 7 licenses to date, an increase from 600 million at the beginning of June.

Last week Microsoft announced that its Windows Pro upgrade will be available for $39.99 for online updates and $69.99 for in-store. The offer will be available for users currently running any version of Windows XP, Windows Vista or Windows 7, the Windows Team Blog announced. This is different from an offer that was announced in May, which said that those purchasing a new PC before Windows 8 launches will be eligible to purchase the next-generation software for $14.99.

In addition to Windows 8, Microsoft is expected to launch the following products in 2012:

-          Windows Server 2012

-          System Center 2012

-          Internet Explorer 10

-          Office 15

-          Exchange 15

-          Visual Studio 2012

-          Kinect for Windows

-          Windows Phone Tango and Apollo

-          Dynamics ERP Online

-          Office 365

-          Windows Azure

-          SharePoint 15

Microsoft has not announced any information on the availability of a public preview of Office 2013, currently known as the Office 15 listed above. More details on this is expected to come later this summer, said Kurt DelBene, president of the Office division.