Will the unveiling of a demo version of the new Windows 8 software help keep Microsoft afloat?
Since the release of its first Windows operating system in 1985, Microsoft has remained central to the personal computer revolution. Today, however, Microsoft is struggling to keep up in the mobile device market, where companies like Apple Inc. and Google Inc. seem to be dominating with their trend-setting i __ devices and Android software. The stakes are higher than ever for Microsoft’s new Windows 8, which will release a “beta” or demo version of the new Windows software this Wednesday in Barcelona before its mass market release in September or October of this year.
“Microsoft’s future path is riding on Windows 8 and its success,” said Gartner Inc. analyst David Cearley. “This is a chance for Microsoft to re-establish itself in a market where it’s becoming increasingly irrelevant.”
If Windows 8 makes a big splash in the market, it could also buoy the fortunes of struggling PC makers, such as Hewlett-Packard Co. and Dell Inc. Besides giving businesses and consumers a reason to consider new PC purchases, Windows 8 is expected to spawn a new breed of hybrid machines that will be part computer tablet, part laptop computer.
If, however, Windows 8 sinks, it will increase the pressure on Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. His 12-year reign as CEO has been linked to the company’s troubles adapting to an Internet-driven upheaval. As Microsoft has stumbled, companies such as Apple and Google have secured their positions as the leading innovators of personal computers.
Windows 8 is radically different from its predecessors, according to experts. The system won’t even have the patented Microsoft “Start” menu. All applications are spread across a mosaic of tiles, as part of a design Microsoft calls “Metro.” The tiles can be navigated with a swipe of the finger on the display screen or with a keyboard and a computer mouse. The tiles also provide a glimpse at the activity occurring in applications connected to the Web, such as email.
Microsoft badly wants a piece of the tablet market that has been cutting into PC sales since Apple introduced the iPad two years ago.
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