Microsoft launches Windows 8

Microsoft is launching its Windows 8 operating system. The product is expected to be aimed at the growing tablet computer market.

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Windows 8 is 'a huge leap forward'

Windows 8 is "a huge leap forward" for Microsoft, but it'll take users a while to adjust, thinks Charles Arthur, the Guardian's technology editor.

For Microsoft, Windows 8 is a huge leap forward – and yet it's doing it while holding all the baggage of the "old" Windows going back decades.

Expect some cries of pain in the weeks and months to come as people adjust.

However, viewed more broadly, it couldn't do anything else: the desktop paradigm is getting tired, and the tiles approach is fresh and quickly becomes intuitive.

– Charles Arthuer, technology editor at the Guardian


Mixed early reviews for Windows 8 tablet

  • Microsoft is desperate for the new-look, touch-friendly Windows 8 to bring itself up to date with customer demand
  • Early reviews of the Surface have been mixed, generally praising the slick hardware, but faulting battery life and the limited software and apps available
  • Some say the first Surface model is not compatible with old Windows programs
  • But, the three models for sale on Microsoft's US website are already on back order, suggesting strong demand
  • There are expected to be 5,000 third-party apps available in comparison with the iPad's 275,000
  • Some big names such as Facebook will be missing

How the Surface compares to its rival the iPad

Here's how the Surface and iPad compare:

  • The Surface boasts a thickness of 9.3 millimeters, versus the iPad's 9.4 millimeters
  • It weighs about 1.5 pounds. Apple's iPads weigh 1.44 pounds and 1.46 pounds for the WiFi and 4G LTE versions, respectively
  • A 10.6-inch-diagonal screen, compared with the iPad's 9.7-inch screen. The Surface also features a unique 16:9 aspect ratio
  • The Surface has 32 GB or 64 GB of storage. Apple's iPad has 16 GB, 32 GB and 64 GB options
  • Surface has a built-in stand and comes with a cover that doubles as a keyboard


Why Microsoft had to start taking on the tablets

It comes as no surprise that Microsoft is looking to take a chunk out of the tablet market.

Even though over 1.5 billion computers and devices are currently using a version of Windows, the firm is more concerned about its prospects for growth.

Sales of tablets are expected to triple in the next two years, topping 180 million-a-year in 2013, easily beating traditional PCs.

The sudden demand for tablets made a big dent in Microsoft's income. Two years ago Apple overtook their revenues for the first time.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer unveiling 'Surface' earlier this year ahead of today's official launch Credit: Reuters

The share Windows has of the PC market is around 75%, down from 96% three years ago.

But some analysts say that share falls to around a third if you add the PC market together with the smartphone market.

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