After two years of work, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer celebrated the imminent release of the new Windows 8 operating system. Microsoft has totally redesigned the system, and the dramatic overall will also allow Windows 8 to run on the increasingly popular touch-screen tablets, as well as PCs.
Currently, more than a billion PC run the Windows operating system, including the 670 million users that run Windows 7 that was previously released in October of 2009.Many of the current Windows users are not expected to switch to the Windows 8 OS for at least a year or more. This means that most of the early usage will come from consumers, businesses and government agencies that buy new devices with Windows 8 already installed.
"What you have seen and heard should leave no doubt that Windows 8 will shatter the perceptions about what a PC really is," Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer crowed at a New York event to kick off the Windows promotional campaign.
The Denver Post writes that” To succeed, the new version will have to be innovative and elegant enough to attract consumers who've fallen in love with notebook computers, tablets and smartphones running software from Apple and Google.”
(Graphic shows global sales of personal computers, tablets and smartphones by operating system)
Another version of Windows 8 is scheduled to be released next week for smartphones, which has been overwhelmingly dominated by Apple Inc. and Google Inc.'s Android software. Microsoft is also opening stores similar to Apple and Google and will include many of the same services.
Both PCs and tablets running Windows 8 will go on sale Friday, and Microsoft's own Surface tablet running Windows 8 will also be available for sale on Friday. The Microsoft Surface Tablet is actually the first computing device that the company has manufactured, as they endeavor to grab a share of the market for mobile devices, and will also be available on Friday.
"We kicked off a new era for Microsoft and a new era for our customers," Ballmer said.
Some observers are already suggesting that Microsoft is taking a huge risk, since the initial impressions with the Beta releases received a somewhat a 'lukewarm' response from the community because Windows 8 looks and operates so much differently than previous versions.
"This is the biggest gamble they've ever made," said analyst Richard Doherty of the Envisioneering Group. "Does (Windows 8) do more things? Yes ... but it's not that easy to use."
However, during a shot interview, Ballmer expressed total confidence that PC users would quickly adapt to the new mosaic tiles, and find them easier and quicker to navigate than the older desktop format. At one point Ballmer exclaims "You've got a whole screen as a start button!"
Microsoft also showcased bit of its own Surface Tablet, as being a more versatile and durable alternative to the Apple iPad.The Surface Tablet will be priced at $499 for a WiFi only model with 32 GBs of storage. Even though the Apple costs the same for its latest full sized iPad, it only comes with half the storage capacity. Currently the price for a separate Microsoft "touch cover" that also serves as an attachable keyboard starts at $120.
To help new users understand some of the changes, Microsoft plans on sending an estimated $1 Billion promoting Windows 8. Maybe that explains all these Internet Explorer adds.
Shortly after the launch. Apple CEO Tim Cook called the Microsoft Surface a "fairly compromised, confusing product" that tries to do too many things.
Meanwhile Apple had rolled out some new hardware of its own this week, as well a new iPad mini priced at $339 to compete with the Amazon Kindle and Nexus 7,priced at $199 respectively.
Interesting article snip to share from the Denver Post:
"If Windows 8 is a hit, it could also help lift the fortunes of struggling PC makers, including Hewlett-Packard Co. and Dell Inc., whose stocks have plummeted with the rise of mobile computing.
If Windows 8 is a flop, however, it will increase the pressure on Ballmer. Although Microsoft is far larger than when Ballmer became CEO nearly 13 years ago, the company's stock has lost nearly half its value as Apple, Google and Amazon steered computing in a new direction. Restless shareholders could start clamoring for Ballmer's ouster if Windows 8 doesn't shake up the state of the technology market as dramatically as Ballmer envisions"
Microsoft shares fell two cents Thursday to close at $27.88.
Further details and pricing information for Windows 8 can be found at http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-8/release-preview and http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows/download-shop