Windows 8 targeted for 2012

If you’re just now getting used to Windows 7, check out this good news.

The new iteration of Microsoft’s operating system is on tap for a 2012 launch. The turnaround time is more or less on par with previous Windows upgrades, but this time there’s a lot more to talk about.

That’s because Windows 8 won’t just simply be the OS you start finding on new computers down the road, but it’s also poised to invade tablets, specialized next-gen computing products, and other platforms.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was at a developer event in Tokyo today, where he said the company is “obviously hard at work on the next version of Windows,” according to a quotation from PC Mag, adding, “As we look forward to the next generation of Windows systems, which will come out next year, there’s a whole lot more coming.”

Windows 7 came out in October of 2009, so the timeline would be a little tighter than the gap Windows Vista and Windows 7, which was a little more than two and a half years. But the computer environment is rapidly changing as traditional PC sales are down while tablet interest is exploding (though there is doubt about a direct correlation between those two statistics).

The problem is Windows 7 was not built to be a mobile operating system, so even though there are some tablets toying with the OS, it’s not seen as a competitor in any way to the iPad or Android-powered tablets.

“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,” Ballmer added.

Other big-picture ideas Microsoft is working on for the next Windows iteration include better understanding human needs (making the process planning a trip a seamless experience out of the box, etc), and of course there are eyes on how it will integrate with the company’s latest big acquisition, Skype.

More details are sure to trickle down over the next several months.