At a Microsoft Developer Forum in Japan today, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer confirmed what we’ve all been assuming: the company plans to release Windows 8 in 2012, just about three years after the release of Windows 7.

Unfortunately, that’s as specific as the famously enthusiastic CEO cared to be, and no new features or details about the release were discussed, though we can glean some tidbits from his remarks.

First, as evidenced by the upcoming ARM port of Windows, one of Windows 8′s focuses is adaptability and modularity – more than any previous version of the OS, Windows 8 will be written to power everything from tablets to netbooks to high-end workstations, or as Ballmer put it, ”Windows 8 slates, tablets, PCs, a variety of different form factors.”

Ballmer went on to talk about the need for more intuitive computing, in the form of hardware and software that can more accurately respond to natural input instead of arcane search terms: “Today on a PC, it’s file open, blah, blah, blah, respond, reply, forward. I can’t just say to my device, get me ready for my trip to Tokyo,” Ballmer said. ” We ought to make it so that the search engines, and the user interface of the device can take actions on our behalf.”

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