SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Computers running on the next version of Microsoft's Windows operating system will go on sale in October.
Microsoft announced the time frame for Windows 8's mass-market release Monday in Toronto. A specific sales date in October wasn't provided.
Most industry analysts expected Windows 8 would go on sale in the fall to ensure that the machines running on the operating system would be available for the holiday shopping season. Consumers and businesses who don't want to buy new computers will be able to buy Windows 8 and upgrade their systems.
New versions of Windows typically come out every three years, but this update is the most widely anticipated overhaul of the software since 1995.
Applications will appear in a mosaic of tiles on Windows 8. Microsoft also designed the operating system so it can run on personal computers or touch-based tablet computers.
Microsoft, which is based in Redmond, Wash., plans to make its own tablet running on Windows 8 to compete against Apple's (AAPL) hot-selling iPad. The company hasn't yet announced a price for its tablet, which will be called the Surface. It also will be competing against a variety of other tablets, including the Kindle Fire from Amazon.com and the Nexus 7, which is being released later this month by Google (GOOG).
As part of its efforts to develop more touch-based software, Microsoft also announced the acquisition of Perceptive Pixel. The deal gives Microsoft access to technology used in large multi-touch displays for TV broadcasters, as well as government, defense, engineering and educational markets, Microsoft said.
Terms of the Perceptive Pixel purchase weren't disclosed.
Windows 8 is being counted on to help revive demand for laptops and other personal computers.
The operating system's versatility is expected to encourage leading PC makers such as Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) and Dell to release hybrid machines that are part laptop, part tablet computer. Both HP and Dell have also indicated they plan to release tablet computers powered by Windows 8, thrusting them into competition with Microsoft's Surface.
Microsoft is releasing Windows 8 computer manufacturers during the first week of August.
The high hopes riding on Windows 8 is the main reason that Microsoft's stock has climbed by about 15 percent so far this year. The shares fell 18 cents to $30 Monday.