Microsoft Shifts To Mobility Arena With Windows 8, Surface Tablet

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To keep pace with Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android operating systems for mobility, which has captured the fast expanding markets of smartphones and tablets, Microsoft has announced the new Windows 8 operating system to enter into already crowded tablet market. This is a dramatic shift from PC, sales of which is dwindling due to fast emergence of tablet computing, to mobile devices by Microsoft.”Windows 8 brings together the best of the PC and the tablet,” said Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer.

At a New York media event, Microsoft announced that Windows 8 would launch Friday in 37 languages and 140 worldwide markets. It can be downloaded today starting at $39.99 and will be sold at retail stores. The operating system retains Windows’ traditional desktop but also adds another view that is heavily geared toward touchscreen devices.

Additionally, Microsoft  launched an online store for Windows 8 apps similar to Apple’s App Store. The Windows Store is now open for consumers to download apps.  In India, a range of free and paid apps that can be downloaded include Bharat Matrimony, BigFlix, BookMyShow, Bookyourtable, Burrp, Dhingana, Fastrack Tees, Flyte MP3, Gaana, Goibibo, ICICI Bank iMobile, ICICIDirect, JustEat, MakeMyTrip Explore, MapmyIndia, my airtel, PVR Cinemas, Tarla Dalal, Yahoo Cricket and Zovi.

Microsoft also launched  a version called Windows RT, designed for ARM based tablets and available pre-installed on new devices including its own Surface tablet.However, Windows RT can run only apps purchased from the Windows Store. Surface has been launched to challenge Apple’s market-ruling iPads and Android tablets by Samsung,Google and Amazon. Surface devices will be sold at Microsoft “pop up” stores to open Friday in the United States and Canada. Surface tablet is expected to be launched in India soon but no definite time frame has been given so far. Surface is a late entry in the market — has a 10.6-inch screen and starts at $499, challenging the larger-format iPads.

Some analysts say the Windows RT system used on Surface and other devices offers Microsoft a chance for a fresh start in controlling both hardware and software in a single device. But some analysts say the revamped Windows system provides Microsoft with an opportunity, but that dramatic changes might not be initially welcomed, because of its initial hitches which will be addressed in the days to come.

As expected, Tim Cook, CEO of Apple Inc., has criticized Surface tablet and described it as a fairly compromised and confusing product. I suppose you could design a car that flies and floats but I don’t think it would do all of those things very well, he added. Tim Cook further said that buyers will prefer iPads compared to Surface, and this will become clear by the end of this year when sales figures will emerge.

Microsoft is organizing an event on Monday and  expected to provide details on its new Windows Phone 8 operating system designed for its push into the smartphone market. Nokia, HTC and Samsung have already unveiled their Windows phone 8 handsets.

Windows, the first version of which was launched in the 1990s, remains the dominant PC platform with some 90 percent of the world market. Microsoft plans to continue providing technical support for Windows 7 until January 14, 2020.

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