Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference is underway in Toronto, Canada, and the Redmond software giant is using the opportunity to officially announce the release schedule for Windows 8. The somewhat controversial operating system – the biggest change to Windows in a long, long time – will Release to Manufacturing (RTM) during the first week of August, paving the way for the consumer release – technically referred to as general availability (GA) – by the end of October.

The two-to-three month delay between RTM and GA might seem like a long time, but it’s vital for manufacturers, allowing them to image and ship out new Windows 8 and Windows RT PCs in time for the October release date. Enterprise customers with Software Assurance will receive access to Windows 8 shortly after RTM, but consumers will have to wait until general availability in order to take advantage of the $15 and $40 upgrade deals. While Microsoft did not explicitly mention TechNet and MSDN subscribers, these customers have historically received new operating systems shortly after enterprises.

Tami Reller, the Chief Marketing Officer and Chief Financial Officer for Windows, notes that “Windows 8 will be available in 109 languages across 231 markets worldwide.” Furthermore, Microsoft plans to open up the Windows Store for business once RTM rolls around, allowing developers to finally charge for their apps.

[The Windows Blog]