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Windows of Opportunity

If you’ve been following recent developments from Microsoft you’ll know that we are now less than 2 weeks away from the launch of Windows 8, the company’s latest major software release. The software has now been released to a range of PC and Laptop manufacturers who will now be busy getting their products ready to launch with Windows 8 on the 26th October. Although the company are synonymous with the huge success of the PC in its heyday of the 1990s there is a general feeling in the industry that Microsoft have been somewhat left in the shadows by Apple and Google, particularly in the mobile sector.

It has been rumoured that the marketing team at Microsoft have been handed a budget of up to $1.5 Billion for this year alone, making this the biggest software launch in history. There is much riding on the success of Windows 8, and if Microsoft are to be believed then this will be one of their most significant developments in recent years. Microsoft will also be hoping that their Windows 8 phone will finally represent a worthy contender to Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android platforms.

What new features can we expect from Windows 8? Much has already been made of the fact that the system has been designed with tablet users in mind. This has a significant bearing on the visual appearance of the software, with the traditional ‘desktop’ discarded for a more modern homepage with access to favourite apps, websites and programs. Manufacturers such as Dell have subsequently announced a new range of laptops to run Windows 8 which offer removable tablet screens, giving the user more portability than ever before. Microsoft are also hoping that their all-new Windows App Store will give the opportunity to access up to 100,000 apps within 3 months of the software launch. Add this to improved power consumption (vital for tablet use) and a completely revised ‘cloud’ interface, allowing remote access to your files from other machines, and Windows 8 starts to look like a highly attractive package.

Will Microsoft’s latest venture prove to be a fruitful one? Much will depend upon all-important user satisfaction, the success of the Windows Store and tablet sales in a market dominated by the iPad. However, perhaps the biggest challenge awaiting Windows 8 is this one: can Microsoft keep pace with their rivals and develop the kind of loyal following that other companies have gathered?