At their annual sales meeting Microsoft publicly announced that tablets and smartphones running the new generation Windows 8 operating system will be available from October this year. This Windows 8 release date was reiterated in a blog published by Microsoft’s Communications Manager, Brandon LeBlanc, and he claimed that Windows 8 will be available in 109 languages in 231 markets throughout the world. Microsoft also announced that this new operating system, which has been developed to reflect the market trend towards tablets and smartphones, will be available to manufacturers of the hardware from August.
The newly developed Windows 8 is the biggest upgrade to a Microsoft operating system in many years and it has been designed to be compatible with desktop PCs, smartphones and tablets. Microsoft hopes that this universal compatibility will give it a clear advantage in the eyes of consumers and give them a selling point that rival Apple does not have (Apple opted to use two different systems, the Mac OS X and the iPad iOS). In keeping with this philosophy this version of Windows has, for the first time, been built to work with ARM based processing chips as well as those designed by Intel and AMD.
Microsoft are hoping that Windows 8 will close the gap between them and rivals Google and Apple and as such the Windows new OS will have added functionality. It will allow users to store and share documents via cloud storage, which is already available from Apple and Android products, in the form of SkyDrive.
Whilst it is not expected that businesses will rush to upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 8 the real test will come when the new tablets from Microsoft are launched on the market, the Surface and Surface Pro. Both devices will run on Windows 8 and aim to compete against Apple’s iPad and Amazon’s Kindle Fire. A strong selling feature may be the newly developed touch sensitive interface, known as Metro which is available with Windows 8 in addition to the more customary desktop.
Microsoft’s stock is already up by 17% since the start of the year and Colin Gillis, Senior Technology Analyst at BGC Partners claims that this is partly due to the rising anticipation of the launch of Windows 8 and the tablets supported by that operating system.
In addition to Windows 8 tablets, a number of smartphones are expected to be released later in the year running Windows Phone 8. HTC is said to be developing three such devices, the Zenith, a premium smartphone, the Rio, a low-cost version and the Accord aimed to meet the needs in the middle of the smartphone market. The new Windows operating platform will enable phones to use multi-core processors and make mobile payments using NFC technology. Windows Phone 8 will also allow multi-tasking and come with LTE capabilities.
There can be no doubt that Microsoft have gone all out in developing Windows 8 and they have high hopes for it, but in such a competitive market it remains to be seen whether consumers will sell their old mobile and flock to buy a Windows 8 device.