Microsoft officially launches Windows 8 and the new Surface tablet

New York – It was almost symbolic of Microsoft Corp. to launch Windows 8 in what was once the meat packing district of New York, as the new operating system has a lot of meat to it.

Company CEO Steve Ballmer announced the advancement of touch technology along with stylus computing or traditional input methods such as keyboard or a mouse is what will really push the Windows 8 experience. He added that starting at 12:01 A.M. tonight (Oct. 26) everyone will be able to find a PC that will be suitable and affordable.

The Windows 8 lead executive Steven Sinofsky said that there will be more than 1,000 new PCs certified for Windows 8 that will be priced at under $300. “These are multi-touch, full capacity PCs that are much cheaper than some leading tablets,” Sinofsky said.

Microsoft’s OEM partners are uncertain about the success of Windows 8, Forrester Research has written, in part because of the economic slowdown around the world and in part because enterprises are more preoccupied with Windows 7 migrations. Forrester believes many will bypass Win8 for the next release. OEMs also know the next generation of Intel processors, code-named Haswell, will offer significant improvements in power consumption when they ship next summer. PCs based on this chip will be out in the fall. As a result, buyers in the know will wait a year, Forrester believes.

As for Win 8 tablet sales, Forrester predicts an initial surge, followed by a lag as buyers digest the new OS, the different processors and models available. That will dampen any carry-over effect Microsoft hoped for tablet buyers affecting Windows Phone 8 sales.

Microsoft Canada president Max Long, said that for the enterprise market it’s about choice; the ability to have choice in devices. “If you are a CIO you want to offer choice to employees of a tablet, or a convertible or normal laptop. Now I have the ability to offer any kind of device with Windows 8 and you will still have the same manageability and security and location availability so it makes for an exciting option for IT managers.

The Surface device was showcased briefly at today’s Windows 8 launch. Microsoft showed off the Surface’s click-on, click-off keyboard cover. But, that was it as Microsoft held a separate press conference for the Surface later on in the day.

Sinofsky also announced the grand opening of the Windows 8 app store which features apps exclusively for Windows 8 tablets, Ultrabooks, and All-in-One units running Intel processors. There will also be specific apps for Windows RT, running on ARM processors. Those will have an environment unto itself, which Sinofsky said ensures the same experience for the life of the product.

Windows RT will come with long battery life, fan-less operation, integrated graphics and Office 2013. According to Sinofsky it will work with 420,000,000 devices from all the major hardware vendors such as Dell, HP, Lenovo and Acer.

Ballmer said that the Windows 8 App store will have friendly business terms for app developers and coding options. He did not reveal what those terms are. CDN has been told by Microsoft those details will be coming shortly. The goal is to expand the number of apps for the Windows 8 operating system, according to Ballmer.

The app store will be available in 231 markets and have apps in 109 languages.

Ballmer outlined a huge market opportunity for solution providers and Microsoft alliance partners for the enterprise and SMB markets. Microsoft has sold more than 670 million Windows 7 licenses during the lifetime of that OS. Ballmer said that with all the new hardware and form factor options now available because of Windows 8 it poses one of the biggest upgrade opportunities the channel has ever seen.

Long added that it did not matter what kind of channel partner you are because the business opportunity with Windows 8 will be huge.

If you are partner that does system integration the mobile opportunity is huge. If you are in the middle of doing deployments for customers of Windows 7 you will continue to do that because it translates easily to Windows 8. If you are out there looking at broad opportunities. Steve Ballmer said that there are 670 million users on older versions of Windows. They need to be upgraded to Windows 8. If you are an ISV you get an opportunity to put your software on a rich platform that will be on more than 1,000 certified Windows 8 PCs that are shipping now,” Long said.

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Paolo Del Nibletto
Paolo Del Nibletto
Former editor of Computer Dealer News, covering Canada's IT channel community.

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