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Microsoft Says It’s Aiming for Windows 8 Release by Holidays

Microsoft Corp., which today unveiled a near-final test version of its Windows 8 software, said its goal is to have machines with the operating system on store shelves in time for the year-end holiday season.

If all goes well, the Redmond, Washington-based company will be able to put the finishing touches on the product in time to meet a goal of holiday delivery for personal computers with the software, Windows President Steven Sinofsky wrote in a blog post on Microsoft’s website.

The updated Windows software will be the first to run on chips based on ARM Holdings Plc’s technology and the first designed for touch-screen control. Both changes are aimed at capturing a portion of the tablet market, which is dominated by Apple Inc.’s iPad. Demand for tablets has been siphoning off customers from Windows-based PCs and curbing Microsoft’s influence among consumers.

Based on feedback from this latest test version, Microsoft will move forward toward a milestone called release to manufacturing, at which point computer makers will start putting the software on their devices. Microsoft aims to enter that final phase in about two months, Sinofsky said.

Microsoft fell less than 1 percent to $29.19 at the close in New York. The shares have gained 12 percent this year.

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