Say hello to Friday, everyone, it’s time for a celebration. And by celebration I really mean a roundup piece on the last week’s worth of Microsoft news. Which is just as good. To be honest, if you want to read this while sipping a cocktail, I’ll wait. Really, go for it.

The news came hot and heavy this week, but only on a few topics, so we are going to stay as focused as possible. For this week’s question, sound off in the comments as to whether you think that Windows 8 development is going quickly enough.

Now, make sure that you are following TNW Microsoft on Twitter and Facebook, and let’s get into the news.

Windows 8

The Windows 8 beta will be released in the second half of February, 2012. We have confirmed this fact. Unless something drastically changes, that is when you can expect the software.

In other Windows 8 news, there has been much scrabbling about what the ARM version of the operating system will be able, and unable to do. A new rumor, and one that we have tried desperately to learn more about, is that it could be that Windows 8 on ARM chips will not run standard desktop apps:

This essentially changes all Windows 8 tablets employing ARM processors into iPad competitors, and not full PCs. While this has not been Microsoft’s stated direction, it is not outside the realm of reason.

Here’s why: If a Windows 8 tablet running ARM silicon only has to support Metro apps, it can be dramatically less powerful. That means it will have a lower price point, longer battery life, and so forth. I’m torn on the issue, because this implies that Microsoft might have to develop a distinct, Metro-set of Office applications, an idea that I quite publicly poo-pooed yesterday.

If this is true, it is simply massive news. Trust me when I tell you that we have dug into this issue as much as we can, and we will continue to do so. This is a simply huge question that must be answered.

Office

Alright then, if there are no normal apps on an ARM-based Windows 8 tablet, what about Office? Will Microsoft build an entirely, touch-focused edition of its productivity suite, just for those ARM slates? Before the rumor broke that ARM machines might not run normal apps, I said no:

There are a host of reasons for Microsoft to not build a separate Windows tablet version of Office, principally that it would directly undercut the idea that a Windows slate is a full computer, designed for production, and not just consumption (iPad). The functions that would exist with a separate edition of Office built for touch will be present in Office 15 (unless Microsoft decides to be a complete idiot), negating the need to go against its design philosophy. Also, there is a massive cost to developing two different sets of Office for the same operating system. On the face of it, it feels wrong.

But then along came the rumor, and threw a wrench into that. I’m honestly torn at the moment, and can’t guide you either way. Again, we are working on it.

HIV

We always try to leave you with something smile-inducing, or at least interesting. This week we shall close out the shop with the following: The Microsoft Research team is using anti-spam technology to combat HIV. Yeah, you heard that right.

As it turns out, as spam threats are constantly mutating, as is HIV, Microsoft can apply lessons that it has already learned in software to the medical issue. We love it. Check the clip:

Cocktail all gone? Good, now stretch out those legs.