(Adds developer terms in fifth paragraph.)
Dec. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Microsoft Corp. will release the first broadly available test version of Windows 8 -- a new iteration of its flagship operating system -- in late February, Vice President Antoine Leblond said at a conference.
The company also plans to open a new application store for Windows at the same time, Leblond said. Redmond, Washington- based Microsoft released a developer preview of the software and gave an initial look at the app store in September. Leblond, who oversees Windows Web Services, spoke today at an event in San Francisco.
Microsoft is rushing to complete Windows 8 to give it an operating system capable of running thinner, lighter tablet machines that can rival Apple Inc.’s iPad. Many consumers are shunning Windows-based notebooks in favor of tablet-style machines.
App developers will be key to Microsoft’s effort because new Windows machines based on chip technology from ARM Holdings Plc won’t be able to run older Windows programs.
To attract programmers, Microsoft will offer the most successful app builders a bigger cut of sales than Apple does. Developers will start out getting a 70 percent share -- the same rate as Apple’s -- while Microsoft keeps the rest. After an app brings in $25,000, the developer gets to keep an 80 percent share.
Paid and Free
Paid apps will be priced from $1.49 to $999.99, Leblond said. The store also will offer free software. During the so- called beta test period, developers will only be able to submit free apps and only by invitation.
Microsoft today demonstrated applications from Walt Disney Co. and EBay Inc.
The new operating system will be the first Windows for personal computers that can run on ARM-based chips, in addition to the Intel Corp. and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. processors that have worked with previous editions of Windows.
The test version is a key step on the way to refining the program for final release, which analysts expect in the latter part of next year.
Microsoft didn’t provide any information on the release date for the final version of Windows 8. The company has said over the past several years that its goal is to release a new version of Windows about every three years. The last one went on sale in October 2009.
--Editors: Stephen West, Tom Giles
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