Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) has released availability dates for the upcoming Windows 8 system. The company’s corporate vice president Tami Reller recently told the company’s partners during the worldwide partner conference in Toronto on early Monday morning that Windows 8 is on track to be released for manufacturing in early August and publicly available in late October 2012.

Manufacturing will also receive Windows Server 2012 by the first week of August but customer won’t be able to access the server bits until September. Business users, however, will have access the final Windows 8 bits on or around early August.

Reller’s confirmation settles the rumor that’s been circulating for awhile. Although the October date was kind of already known by everyone, it’s still nice to see that there is a confirmation from a trusted source.  Reller also mentioned that Microsoft sold 360 million licenses for Windows 7.  This number is up from 600 million they had since June.  A recent tweet from Microsoft echoed Reller’s news.

Windows 8 could be a make or break for Microsoft. On one hand, this platform is geared primarily for the upcoming Surface tablet computers. On the other hand, even though most will buy Windows 8 for their desktop PCs and laptops, the sales may still not be able to compete with the likes of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL). I think Microsoft should keep their focus on  what they sell well and less on competing with companies that already have it in the bag. I would really like to see Microsoft give Apple real competition simply because competition is good for the consumer but I know that’s a long shot. It’s tough for any company to compete with another that’s set the standard.

So just what can we expect from Windows 8? One source claims a faster processor. Michael Muchmore from PCMag.com conducted various speed tests on a preview copy of Windows 8 and compared it to Windows 7. He found that the new version of Windows is faster which hopefully means that by the time Windows 8 goes live to the public, it should be even faster.

Right now we don’t have a lot of information regarding Windows 8 but we’re hoping to hear more about it as we edge closer to the official release. Given the fact that we’re talking about Windows here, we already know that it’s not going to be the most exciting upgrade but we know that Microsoft is going to have to make some significant improvements in their software if they want Surface to be a true iPad competitor.