Windows8 and Surface Happen on Friday

This is about as big a week for Microsoft as they’ve every had.  Friday the company rolls out their newest version of Windows and jumps into the tablet battles with Surface.

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First Windows 8.  Microsoft’s OS has long been reviled and unloved no matter how hard the company tried to update and dress it up.  For all the reasons that people began to migrate over to Apple’s OSX – simplicity, security, beauty of design – Windows has been that interface that just couldn’t get out of its own way.  But with Wondows 8 Microsoft is attempting some very bold strokes.

First they want you to know that with Windows 8 you have just about the same experience on a desktop as you would on a Windows 8 handheld device and everything else in-between.  The user interface is about as polar opposite from any previous version of Windows as you can imagine.  Trying to take the experience of touch interface so much loved on tablets and phones and bringing that to the desktop/laptop world with tiles is very futuristic and brave.  Just how well it will work on a PC that doesn’t have a touch screen is yet to be seen, and because it is so far different just how many people will want to upgrade?  Confusing matters is that hidden beneath the idea that at the OS is the same for PCs and phones is the fact is there are really two different versions.  Windows 8 RT is what you’ll run on tablets and phones.

Microsoft has to do something to repair the aging OS and this appears to be an “chips all in” move.  Certainly what it is today isn’t final.  Just like Apple did with OSX so many years ago, you can expect updates and improvements with regularity.

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Second is the new in-house tablet, Surface.  Microsoft really, really, really wants you to pay attention to the build quality of these new tablets and see how awesome the feel of the connection of the soft cover to the actual tablet (which also doubles as a very cool soft touch keyboard).  This first version is a true tablet running Windows 8 RT, and is priced comparably with associated iPads, but also has a USB port.  But what it won’t have is an option for a cellular connection.  All of them are wifi only.  The higher end model of Surface, called the Pro, which will be a fully functioning PC in tablet format won’t go on sale for a few more months.

Surface looks to be the first cool thing Microsoft has built in a long time.  But Apple owns the tablet marketplace with 70% of the users and Android has struggled mightily to get their different tablets to sell in great numbers.  Android’s issue isn’t the hardware, its that app developers just aren’t in the mood for making apps for all the different screen sizes Android tablets come in.  To get people to pony up for a tablet that isn’t an iPad, Microsoft is going to have to prove there are apps, and good ones.  A good start is that a version of Microsoft Office will be available on the Surface (although Outlook is not included, sadly).

If you’re in the market for a tablet Surface is a MUST to consider.

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