Microsoft unveiled a revamped version of Windows this morning and previewed Surface, its entry into the tablet market.
The tech giant launched Windows 8 in 37 languages across 140 worldwide markets and the launch followed 1.24 billion hours of public testing in 190 different countries.
“No product anywhere receives this kind of testing anywhere in the world,” Steve Ballmer, chief executive of Microsoft, told the Windows 8 launch event in New York City this morning.
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The updated operating system was reportedly plagued with bugs before launch and has been described by Patrick Moorhead of Moor Insights & Strategy as “Microsoft’s biggest risk ever”.
Windows 8 features a new user interface and includes access to a wide range of apps through the official opening of the Windows Store.
It uses a mosaic of tiles displaying applications instead of relying on the desktop icons that Microsoft has used for years.
Pip Marlow, managing director of Microsoft Australia, said in a statement this morning that the launch of Windows 8 represented a “re-imagined Windows”.
“Whether you want a tablet or a PC, whether you want to consume or create, whether you want to work or play – Windows 8 delivers a personalised experience that fits your unique style and needs,” Marlow said.
Foad Fadaghi, research director at technology analyst firm Telsyte, told SmartCompany Microsoft is banking on the strategy that people will want an operating system across multiple devices, including smartphones and PCs.
“It is a bit of a risky strategy as people are not necessarily used to it so it will require a bit of education, what is critical is that the user experience is similar or superior to competitors,” Fadaghi says.
“It is very important that consumers find the operating system comfortable and that is something Microsoft still has to prove.”
More than 200 devices, including Surface, will be available to Australian customers in recognition by Microsoft of the move away from desktop computers to smartphones, tablets and televisions.
The Surface is being billed as Microsoft’s answer to Apple’s iPad.
“The Surface is part of the overall strategy and it faces some challenges in terms of distribution as Microsoft has not had in-house hardware before,” says Fadaghi.
“When it comes to local market penetration they don’t have Microsoft stores in Australia and the device does not have 3G or 4G connectivity, so the carriers will not be so interested in it.”
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