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Windows 8 big gamble

01 Oct 2012

Microsoft is taking a big risk with Windows 8, but it’s a risk that the software giant has to take in order to remain relevant, industry analysts Gartner have warned.

The research house has published a collection of research on Windows 8 in the lead up to the operating system’s launch, expected late this month.

Gartner notes that when the PC dominated personal computing, Windows was a powerhouse for Microsoft. “Now however, smartphones and tablets, led by the iPhone and iPad, have changed the way people work, making the PC just one of several devices people use,” Michael Silver, Gartner vice president and distinguished analyst says. “The PC is increasingly simply a peer with other devices.”

He says with Windows 8, Microsoft is trying to address the excitement of the tablet market. “Microsoft’s approach is very different from Apple’s and Google’s where phones and tablets have much more commonality than PCs and tablets.

“This plays to Microsoft’s strength in PCs, leveraging it not only to enter the tablet market, but also to improve its share of the smartphone market,” Silver says.

But Gartner warned that making radical changes to Windows poses a risk for Microsoft as organisations like to reduce technology risk by deploying mature, stable, well-supported products. It says Vista never gained significant success in corporate environments and its lack of success reduced its useful life as third parties had already started cutting support for it.

“The bottom line is that IT leaders are questioning whether Windows 8 will suffer a similar fate.”

Gartner also warned that the new ‘Metro-style’ UI, which includes large buttons for touch and eliminates the ability to boot to the familiar Windows Desktop and have a traditional Windows start menu, ‘has people questioning its appropriateness for traditional desktop and notebook machines, which comprise the majority of the existing PC market’.

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