Microsoft shows off Windows 8

By Dawinderpal Sahota
02 Jun 2011 View Comments
Windows 8 launch at Computex

Microsoft has unveiled its next operating system (OS), widely expected to be called Windows 8, giving a demo of the software at the D9 Conference in the US and at Computex in Taiwan.

However, PC manufacturers are worried that they will be left out of the loop when the OS eventually comes to market.

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The company said that the OS will scale from small touch-screen devices through to wide-screen desktops, with or without a keyboard and mouse.

The OS bears similarities to Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 system for touch-screen mobile devices in that it uses a tile-based Start screen, which replaces the Windows Start menu, with "live tiles" showing up-to-date information from apps.

"Windows 8 provides that touchy-feely interface to Windows that Microsoft has been attempting for the best part of a decade," said Richard Edwards, principal analyst at Ovum.

"It was in 2001 that Bill Gates demonstrated a pen-based PC using Windows XP, so it's taken a while to get there and Microsoft has always needed stiff competition to come up with new innovative products."

Apps for Windows 8 are based on HTML5, and are full-screen and touch-optimised. Microsoft expects "hundreds of millions" of PC users to eventually switch to Windows 8.

However, the company has told chip makers who want to use the system for tablets that they should work with only one manufacturer, according to Bloomberg, in order to speed up the delivery of the OS.

This has sparked worries among some PC manufacturers that they will not be chosen to partner with the chip makers and their PCs will therefore be left out when Windows 8 comes to market.

"By missing those chances, is it good for the whole industry together? This industry doesn't belong to Microsoft or Google, it belongs to all the participants," Jim Wong, president of the world's number two PC manufacturer, Acer, told a news conference in Taipei on Wednesday, according to Reuters.

"They can't make the decision for all of us. That's the problem," Wong added.

However, Ovum's Edwards believes that Microsoft's strategy makes commercial sense, and hailed CEO Steve Ballmer for finally making some tough decisions.

"In order for the company to compete and remain relevant to today's market, it's got to take some harsh business decisions," he said.

"Maybe in the past Ballmer hasn't taken those decisions and Microsoft has suffered as a result."


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