Microsoft doesn't have a great history of producing two good OSes on the bounce. Windows 95 and Windows 98, Windows 2000 and Windows ME, Windows XP and Windows Vista, so should we be apprehensive about 2012?
That is the date (providing the Mayans/Roland Emmerich don't get in the way) that Microsoft will release Windows 8 according to the company's latest roadmap. This means the really rather lovely Windows 7 may only have 25 more months front and centre (though I suspect it'll be closer to 37).
This shouldn't be a shock however since back in 2006 Steve Ballmer proclaimed "We will never have a five-year gap between releases of flagship products". This came following (spot on) criticism over the delay between Windows XP and Vista. Of course 2012 is a long way off in computer years and Microsoft doesn't have a particularly good record of spitting out its operating systems on time.
That said, Windows 7 came through arguably the smoothest product development in Microsoft's history so perhaps it has turned over a new leaf. It also showed that evolving a platform much - dare I say it - as Apple does with Mac OS X is a far better idea than building up huge expectations and waiting times for a product that doesn't deliver.
So 2012 it is and should the date stick we may well see a beta 10/12 months ahead of launch. In which case let's just hope the usual Microsoft one good/one bad curse doesn't stick. Even if it has already been foreseen...