Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) will release its next-generation Windows 8 operating system next year in hopes of offering an OS for tablets and desktop devices alike. But can Windows 8 really be a formidable rival to Google's Android and Apple's iOS in the mobile arena while still keeping Microsoft's lead in the desktop computing market?
Microsoft has lost a lot of ground in this so-called post-PC era as users have migrated from desktops and laptops to tablets and smartphones. Windows 8, with its Metro interface, was meant as Microsoft's foothold in the tablet market. But this double-duty platform is facing a lot of obstacles right out of the gate.
For one thing, having a platform that works for both tablets and desktops isn't going to satisfy users of either device. Desktop users will find it hard to justify upgrading from Windows 7 to Windows 8 if the software doesn't offer any additional benefit aside from access to the Windows app store.
"Windows 8 will be largely irrelevant to the users of traditional PCs, and we expect effectively no upgrade activity from Windows 7 to Windows 8 in that form factor," IDC reports according to a ZDNET article.
Another problem facing Microsoft is its own success with its previous operating software Windows 7. Microsoft sold 450 million licenses for Windows 7 as of September. These new users will not upgrade to a new OS so soon. Enterprises who shelled out money to upgrade their systems to Windows 7 will want a break before migrating to another OS.
Despite the bleak outlook for Microsoft 8 in desktops there is still some light for Microsoft in the tablet market. If Microsoft can convince developers to build apps suited for Windows 8's user interface, the OS has a chance. Another point in Microsoft's favor is that a cross-platform OS will be more efficient for companies who want software that could work in both tablets and desktops. As more and more users flock to tablets and smartphones, software that can integrate both desktop and mobile devices will be the software to have for users and businesses.
Microsoft may be facing an uphill climb convincing users to adopt Windows 8, but it doesn't mean the new software is irrelevant. While the software is largely incompatible with current desktop hardware, it doesn't mean that desktops and laptops can't evolve to incorporate touch screen technology. Microsoft is betting on that future and the new version of Windows only reinforces that.
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