Today, Microsoft's bold adventure formally begins. After a relatively quiet presentation yesterday at New York City's Pier 57, Windows 8 and Surface, the company's first venture into computer devices, are officially available.
In addition to the new operating system and Surface tablet computer, Microsoft announced the opening of its online store in 231 markets around the world. The store will include apps and content for Windows machines, MSNBC reports in its recap of the event
The release of Windows 8 is closely linked to Microsoft's experiment with Surface, a potential flagship device that doubles as a tablet and lightweight laptop. Perhaps the biggest change introduced on Windows 8 is the deep integration of touch-enabled screens on desktops, tablets, and laptops, as various PC makers have incorporated the new user experience into their hardware.
Microsoft confidently assures customers that Windows 8 provides equally smooth functionality when used with either touch or a traditional mouse and trackpad setup.
"Windows 8 shatters perceptions of what a PC now really is," Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told the audience. "We've truly reimagined Windows and kicked off a new era of Microsoft and for our customers...Seeing, touching, clicking and swiping really is believing."
Steven Sinofsky, President of Microsoft's Windows and Windows Live Division, introduced and discussed the online app store, addressing concerns about limited app availability on Windows 8. Sinofsky pointed out that the app store already has more to offer at launch than any of its competitors initially provided. The early stage should be viewed as a grand opening while developers continue to add new offerings.
Already 1,000 PCs have been certified for Windows 8, and while Microsoft held the stage alone without partners, the company showed off several devices operating on both Windows 8 and Windows RT, the ARM version of the new OS for tablets.
At a separate event scheduled for Monday, Microsoft will debut Windows Phone 8, which will be loaded on upcoming phones from Nokia, HTC, Huawei, and Samsung.
The release of Windows 8 is closely linked to Microsoft's experiment with Surface
, a potentially flagship device that doubles as a tablet and lightweight laptop. Perhaps the biggest change introduced on Windows 8 is the deep integration of touch-enabled screens on desktops, tablets, and laptops, which various PC makers have incorporated into their hardware to support the redesigned user experience. Instead of the traditional Start menu, Windows 8's home screen now becomes a Start screen in its own right, with live tiles and close contacts updating in real time.
While the risks are huge
, Microsoft has taken its biggest step since launching Windows 95 seventeen years ago. Competition from Apple and Google, along with a growing trend toward tablets and mobile devices, has necessitated a change in strategy. Time will tell how well how the more consumer-friendly Windows 8 fares among current Windows users and potential converts, but Microsoft has clearly committed to keeping pace with the changes now shaping the way we interact with today's technologies for business and personal use.