Microsoft is slowly doling out bits and pieces of information regarding the release of its highly anticipated and somewhat controversial operating system, Windows 8. The latest tidbit – albeit a fairly significant one – comes courtesy of Steven Sinofsky, the President of Microsoft’s Windows and Windows Live Division. At Microsoft’s annual sales meeting, Sinofsky revealed that Windows 8 will be released to the public on Friday, October 26.

This announcement builds upon the October release window which Microsoft discussed last week. It also aligns almost perfectly with the release schedule established for Windows 7, which hit general availability (GA) on Thursday, October 22, 2009.

On October 26, customers will be able to pick up a $40 upgrade copy of Windows 8 – $15, if you recently purchased a new PC – or a new Windows 8-equipped computer or tablet. Interestingly, Microsoft does not plan to sell full (e.g. non-upgrade) Windows 8 licenses in stores. This, of course, is likely due to the fact that purchases of full copies of Windows 8 are even more uncommon than upgrades. Most people simply get the next OS when they buy a new PC.

[Windows Team Blog]