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Microsoft denies Ballmer's Windows 8 claims

When Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told a Japanese software developer conference yesterday that the next version of Windows would be called Windows 8 and would launch in 2012, you'd think he'd know what he's talking about.

After all, he only runs the company.

But a red-faced Vole has scuttled from its Redmond bunker to claim that Ballmer was spouting cobblers after all.

"It appears there was a misstatement," the spokesperson said in an announcement hurriedly outed by the software firm yesterday afternoon. "We are eagerly awaiting the next generation of Windows 7 hardware that will be available in the coming fiscal year. To date, we have yet to formally announce any timing or naming for the next version of Windows," the missive read.

So Ballmer's burblings weren't formal. And he doesn't know what he's talking about. Or he does know but wasn't supposed to tell anyone yet. Or he's one utterance away from the funny farm.

Either way, the bloke is increasingly looking like a liability.

Microsoft delivered a transcript of Ballmer's speech here. It clearly states that Ballmer said: "And yet, as we look forward to the next generation of Windows systems, which will come out next year, there's a whole lot more coming. As we progress through the year, you ought to expect to hear a lot about Windows 8. Windows 8 slates, tablets, PCs, a variety of different form factors."

The truth of the matter, we suspect, is that Microsoft's next version of Windows will of course be called Windows 8. And it will launch next year. Meanwhile Microsoft will try to shift as many copies of Windows 7 as it can in the hope that those that 'upgrade' to 7 in the coming months will then move to 8 a few months later.

And Ballmer? We give him about 12 months, maybe less.