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Windows 8 will be released on October 26, Microsoft has revealed.

The declaration was made at the firm’s annual sales meeting and was published on its blog shortly after.

The firm has described the update as the most important redesign of its interface in more than a decade.

The announcement was made a day before the firm releases its fourth quarter earnings report. Analysts say it may post its first ever loss after writing down the value of a troubled takeover.

Microsoft paid $6.3 billion for the online advertising service Aquantive in 2007 but has said the service did not perform as expected. As a result its earnings will be offset by a $6.2 billion charge.

Windows 8 will be released on October 26

Windows 8 will be released on October 26

Microsoft’s future efforts are now focused on its upcoming system software release.

Windows 8 includes a touch-controlled interface dubbed Metro as well as a more traditional desktop.

It will be released in a version that runs on ARM-based chips for the first time, as well as versions for x86-based ones designed by Intel and AMD.

Some consumers will have delayed buying new computers ahead of the release, depressing Microsoft’s sales in the meantime.

However, many companies have continued with their roll-out of Windows 7 as it typically takes big firms’ IT departments months or years after a major system update to approve its installation on workers’ computers.

Part of Microsoft’s goal in the initial months will be to eat into sales of rivals’ tablet computers.

Apple’s iPad and Amazon’s Kindle Fire have dominated the sector while Google’s new Nexus 7 has also attracted positive reviews.

Microsoft hopes to make the most of the fact that it can offer a single system that can power both desktop PCs and mobile devices – allowing progams to work on both – as opposed to Apple’s decision to offer different Mac OS X and iPad iOS systems.

Microsoft has also taken the out-of-character step of announcing its own hardware – the Surface family of tablets – to compete with other companies’ products on the Windows 8 platform to maximize its chances.

But since announcing the news chief executive Steve Ballmer has sought to reassure his company’s hardware partners, describing Surface as “a design point” that would have a place within a “broad Windows ecosystem”.

Whatever the case, investors appear hopeful despite the problems with Aquantive.

“Microsoft’s stock is up 17% since the start of the year in part because of anticipation for Windows 8 and Surface,” said Colin Gillis, senior technology analyst at BGC Partners.

“We’re also still seeing nearly one million PCs sold worldwide a day so that’s a sizeable marketplace for them.”


Microsoft has written down the value of online advertising firm aQuantive it bought five years ago by $6.2 billion.

Microsoft bought aQuantive for $6.3 billion in cash in an attempt to catch rival Google in the race to increase revenues from search-related advertising.

The write-down effectively wipes out the acquisition’s value, although there was little impact on Microsoft’s shares in after-hours trading on Monday.

The purchase of aQuantive in 2007 was then Microsoft’s biggest acquisition.

It has since been eclipsed by the company’s $8.5 billion purchase of internet phone service Skype last year.

Microsoft has written down the value of online advertising firm aQuantive it bought five years ago by $6.2 billion

Microsoft has written down the value of online advertising firm aQuantive it bought five years ago by $6.2 billion

Microsoft said in a statement on Monday that “the acquisition did not accelerate growth to the degree anticipated, contributing to the write-down”.

Analysts said the write-down came as no surprise to investors.

“aQuantive didn’t work out, but everyone already pretty much knew that,” said Colin Gillis at BGP Financial Partners.

“Now, they are just mopping up.”

The $6.2 billion charge is likely to wipe out any profit for the company’s fourth quarter. Wall Street was expecting Microsoft to report fourth-quarter net profit of about $5.25 billion on 19 July.

In addition to the write-down, Microsoft said its forecast for future growth and profitability at its online services arm – which includes the Bing search engine and MSN internet portal – were “lower than previous estimates”.