Panos Panay, the general manager of the team behind the
Microsoft Surface holds up the new Microsoft Surface tablet
pc during the launch event for Microsoft Windows 8 in New
York. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Microsoft Corp has launched its new Windows 8 operating
system and Surface tablet in a bid to revive interest in its
flagship product and regain ground lost to Apple Inc and Google
Inc in mobile computing.
"We've reimagined Windows and we've reimagined the whole PC
industry," Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer told
Windows 8 devices and the company's new Surface tablet, which
aims to challenge Apple's popular iPad head on, go on sale at
midnight on Thursday (US time).
Steven Sinofsky, head of Microsoft's Windows unit and the
driving force behind Windows 8, opened the launch event in
New York in front about 1000 media and PC industry partners.
He showed off Windows 8's new touch-optimized design, but
emphasized that the system was built upon the base of Windows
7, Microsoft's best-selling software that recently passed 670
million licence sales.
While Windows 7 was introduced three years ago, Windows 8
represents the biggest change in Microsoft's user interface
since Windows 95 came out 17 years ago.
The radical redesign, which dispenses with the Start button
and features square tiles for apps, may surprise some users.
Initial demand for Windows 8 appeared solid, but customers
"We've seen steady pre-order sales on Windows 8 devices from
early adopters," said Merle McIntosh, senior vice president
of product management at online electronics retailer Newegg.
"However, we expect that most average consumers are waiting
until after launch to make a purchase decision."
REVIEWERS, INVESTORS UNCERTAIN
Microsoft is offering several versions of Windows 8. The
basic Windows 8, the full Windows 8 Pro and Windows 8
Enterprise for large organizations will all run on the
traditional PCs, laptops and new tablets using Intel Corp
Through the end of January, users running Windows XP, Windows
Vista or Windows 7 can download an upgrade to Windows 8 Pro
For the first time, Microsoft has also created a version
called Windows RT which will be pre-installed on its Surface
tablet and other devices using low-power chips designed by
Early reviews of the Surface tablet, which starts at $499,
have been mixed, with praise for its slick hardware, but
concerns about battery life and limited software and
Microsoft has not said how many apps Windows 8 will have at
launch, but it is expected to be a fraction of the 275,000
available to iPad users. The New York Times Co announced a
reader app for Windows 8 on Thursday, and Amazon.com Inc
launched a Kindle e-book app for the new system, but some big
names such as Facebook Inc are not expected to feature.
Investors were uncertain about the prospects for success of
Windows 8, but many feel a solid launch could help
Microsoft's stock, which has languished between $20 and $30
for much of the last decade.
Apple's shares have significantly outperformed Microsoft's
over the past 10 years, and its market value is now more than
double Microsoft's. Microsoft shares were up 0.3 percent at
$27.99 on Thursday afternoon, while Apple shares were down
0.8 percent at $611.70.
"This really is about debunking the notion that Microsoft is
a dinosaur and they are relevant in a new climate of tablets
and mobile," said Todd Lowenstein, portfolio manager at
HighMark Capital Management, which holds Microsoft shares.
"Extreme pessimism and almost utter failure is priced into
the shares, so any kind of positive delivery on units,
customer perception, would be really beneficial to the