February 29, 2012
Windows 8 Beta Test To Begin Wednesday In Barcelona
Microsoft will be taking the wraps off of Windows 8 Wednesday in Barcelona, Spain, as the public beta test for the Redmond, Washington tech giant's revamped operating system gets underway en route to a possible mass market release in seven or eight months.
Reuters' reporter Bill Rigby reports calls Wednesday the public's "first chance to try out the slick, new-look operating system" that Microsoft "hopes will restore the company's fading tech supremacy."
Windows 8 will come in two versions, Rigby said. One will be Microsoft's first operating system that will be compatible with the lower-powered ARM microprocessors typically found in tablets, smartphones, and similar portable devices, while the other will run on desktop and laptops featuring Intel's x86 chipsets.
The new operating system boasts a completely re-imagined interface that is heavily influenced by the "Metro" style OS currently featured on Microsoft's Windows Phones. Rigby reports that it will feature "tiles" that update in real-time, can be moved around the screen, or tapped in order to launch an application (traditional mouse-style controls are also available for those who prefer the old-school approach).
Michael Liedtke of the Associated Press (AP) calls Windows 8 "the most important piece of software the Redmond, Wash., company has designed since co-founder Bill Gates won the contract to build the first operating system for IBM Corp.'s personal computer in the early 1980s," and adds that Wednesday's event will offer "the most extensive look at Windows 8's progress since it released an early version of the system to developers five months ago."
Liedtke says that Microsoft is hoping to "perform a difficult balancing act" with the new operating system -- continuing to keep a foothold in what the AP reporter refers to as a "past its prime" PC market while also trying to gain a foothold in the world of mobile devices currently dominated by Apple's iOS and Google's Android software.
Gartner Inc. analyst David Cearley told Liedtke, "Microsoft's future path is riding on Windows 8 and its success“¦ This is a chance for Microsoft to re-establish itself in a market where it's becoming increasingly irrelevant."
Windows unit chief Steven Sinofsky will oversee Wednesday's Barcelona "Consumer Preview" event, and all those in attendance will be able to download a test version of the PC and laptop versions of the OS, though the mobile version will not be available until later on in the year, Rigby said.
"If Windows 8 is a hit, it could also help lift the fortunes of struggling PC makers, including Hewlett-Packard Co. and Dell Inc.," Liedtke said. "If Windows 8 is a flop, however, it will increase the pressure on Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. His 12-year reign has been marred by the company's troubles adapting to an Internet-driven upheaval. As Microsoft has stumbled, faster-innovating companies such as Apple and Google have elbowed their way into a position to steer the direction of computing for the next decade or two."
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