This isn’t an announcement that Windows 8 will ship, but that hardware that has already been certified for Windows 8 can use the Windows 8 logo. To ensure that hardware can be certified prior to the release of a new version of Windows, Microsoft allows their OEM partners to submit for logo against pre-release versions of the operating systems, which means there isn’t a post RTM window (no pun intended) without certified PCs and devices.
This has several benefits for both the OEM and for Microsoft, due to the ongoing feedback on the tests and requirements and any issues that are discovered in the testing suite, discovered in the operating system, or discovered in the hardware or drivers. If you think about all of the component suppliers involved in building a PC, there are large amounts of very beneficial two way feedback.
One of the things that Microsoft seems to be controlling better with the Windows 8 logo and expectations from OEMs is that the shipping state of the systems needs to more closely resemble what has been tested. For anyone who has submitted a PC for the Windows logo in the past, the chances are they had a set of go to drivers for the different hardware elements that they know will get through the logo tests, but these may be old versions of drivers that don’t deliver an optimal user experience.
Previously the post sales auditing that Microsoft would have performed on these machines really only verified that the drivers were signed, for example, and didn’t verify that the machines would pass all of the logo tests again with these new and updated drivers. The OEMs would then also take the liberty of adding a bunch of additional applications and utilities to the system, which meant that the operating system install you purchases may have had little to do with what was tested.
All up, these changes are good for the customer in my opinion, giving them a machine that should be better performing and with less junk installed.
The latest version of the Windows Hardware Certification Kit can be downloaded from http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/p/?LinkID=241607.