Windows 8 is a significant step for Microsoft as it marks a concerted effort by the company to bring the Windows experience to the burgeoning tablet and smartphone market.
“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 said at a New York launch event.
Mr. Ballmer’s remarks about the perception of what a “PC really is” show that in an era of waning market interest in traditional PCs, Microsoft is trying to redefine the PC experience on tablet platforms. As such, Microsoft’s Surface — the company’s Windows RT tablet — played a prominent part of the launch festivities.
“It’s not just a tablet. It’s actually the best tablet that I’ve ever used,” Windows chief Steven Sinofsky said about the Surface. “It’s also not just a laptop, but it’s the best laptop that I’ve ever used as well.”
Microsoft is hoping that the device will be its iPad killer, attracting both enterprise and end-user customers.
“[The Surface] starting at $499 for the 32GB version and we think that’s a pretty darn good price,” said Mr. Sinofsky.” You know, it’s twice the amount of storage as a competing tablet for the same price.”
For Microsoft, a lot is riding on the success of the non-traditional versions of its operating system. Reportedly, interest from coveted high-margin enterprise customers is almost nil for the PC version of Windows 8.
Business to business sales agents from Vancouver-based computer retailers contacted by Hardware Canucks report that interest is marginal because of compatibility concerns with legacy applications.
“There’s about half the interest at this point in the early cycle of Windows 8 then there was for Windows 7 among IT decision makers,” said Forrester research analyst David Johnson to IT World Canada.
Forrester reports that only 4 percent of enterprise customers plan to deploy Windows 8 within the next 12 months.
Crashes during high-profile Windows launch demonstrations are something of a tradition for the company: it happened during the Windows 98 launch, and as the Wall Street Journal reports the Taiwan launch of Windows 8 was no different.
According to the Journal, Microsoft exhibitors at a Windows 8 demo in Taipei were faced with lockups and crashes when attempting to close running applications while demonstrating the new OS on the touch screens of all-in-one PCs made by ASUS and Acer.
Microsoft reps were quick to blame the hardware provided to them by OEMs.
“It was pretty rushed to the launch date, and the user experience will improve,” said Yi-Fang Chu, a Microsoft Taiwan marketing manager, to the Journal “It is a hardware issue, rather than a software one, it’s partly because of the large screen size of the all-in-ones.”
The attention of bystanders was hastily directed to Windows 8 tablets that were also on display.
“Closing applications works much better when you use the tablets,” a Microsoft rep said to the crowd.