Side-by-side GUI comparison for Apple's iPad vs. the upcoming Windows 8 Metro.
Will Windows 8 Metro mount a serious challenge to the iPad heavyweight? (Photo Credit: CC BY-SA/Buck/Flickr)

As the tech world continues its shift toward tablet computing, few companies have posed any real challenge to the dominance of Apple’s iPad. Microsoft, however, is reportedly ready to give it a whirl. At the recent Build developer conference in Anaheim, Calif., Microsoft revealed Windows 8, a drastic overhaul that will bring the ubiquitous platform into the tablet era.

Windows 8: Excitement tempered by migration fatigue

Microsoft Windows division president Steven Sinofsky told the audience that this isn’t your father’s Windows.

“Things are pretty different from 1995, the last time Windows went through a pretty significant evolution,” Sinofsky said. “Everything that was great about Windows 7? We took that and made it even better in Windows 8.”

Despite the excitement the Windows 8 reveal generated at the conference, industry sources predict that it will be difficult for Windows 8 to gain traction in the market once it hits in Fall 2012. This is because many companies have only just upgraded to Windows 7. Rumblings that Windows 8 is merely improving features already existent in the previous OS don’t help the battle against “migration fatigue.”

“We … expect most companies to skip it,” said Gartner technical research firm vice president Michael Silver to “To the extent that the market expects companies to adopt Windows 8 in large numbers, it may be disappointed.”

Imagining the next PC

Sinofsky trumped up the new Windows 8 graphic user interface that Microsoft is calling “Metro.”

“We’re going to re-imagine Windows,” Sinofsky said. “All the way up to a brand new user interface.”

Metro will reportedly feature a touch screen interface over the top of Windows 8. Metro is intended to work on any device with a touch screen, and tablets will likely represent the primary market by sales volume.

Quick, intuitive access to applications, a lock screen that provides useful information to the user and more should make Windows 8 a popular departure for Microsoft, said Sinofsky. Plus, the memory requirements for the new OS are lower than its predecessors and Windows 8 has been shown to function properly on both Intel and AMD chipsets.

“The minute you use a touch device with Windows 8, I promise you’ll go back to your computer and you’ll be hitting the screen,” he said.

Sinofsky noted that in response to what will surely be many tablets running Windows 8 Metro, Microsoft will open an app store that will carry both mobile apps and versions of many classic Windows 32-bit programs.

On building Windows 8


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