On 1 June 2011, at the D9 Conference, Microsoft demonstrated the next generation of Windows, code-named Windows 8, focusing primarily on the graphical user interface. Aspects of Windows 8 include:
Microsoft's video demonstration of Windows 8 is available at http://media.ch9.ms/ch9/cda16b03-c463-47e7-b604-9ef5011c5b25/Demo.mp4 and http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/presskits/windows7/videogallery.aspx?contentID=win8_preview1 . Microsoft said it would offer more details on Windows 8 at its Build Conference in September 2011.
Windows 8 appears to be an ambitious project which Microsoft is calling a "reimagining" of Windows. The company is under pressure to produce an operating system (OS) that can be used on various form factors, as the popularity of Apple's iPad, other tablets and handheld devices such as smartphones has called into question the relevance of the PC and Windows.
Windows 8 has been designed to run on ARM processors as well as on Windows 7-class PCs. Microsoft has not said whether Windows 8 will replace the Windows Phone OS. Gartner believes that tailored applications would run on all devices, but legacy Windows applications and device drivers would only run on certain devices. Legacy Windows applications would need to be recompiled to run on ARM, and even then, the requirements of some applications could mean that they will be inappropriate to run on lower-end hardware. Different devices will have different user experiences based on the power of the processor, the size of the screen and perhaps on the input device. Microsoft is hoping Moore's Law will mean that capabilities of low-powered devices will improve as product availability approaches.
Gartner does not expect Windows 8 to ship before 2H12, about three years after Windows 7; shipment could easily occur later if Microsoft's effort is very complex. We expect Microsoft to closely control and limit initial shipment on ARM devices. While the company will position Windows 8 as an OS for consumers and businesses, Gartner believes that many organizations will evaluate Windows 8 tablets and other alternative form factors, but will standardize PCs around Windows 7 and skip Windows 8.
The deployment of any new major OS release requires 12 to 18 months for independent software vendors (ISVs) to support and organizations to plan, test and pilot beforehand. Even if Windows 8 ships by mid-2012, most organizations could not deploy it until early 2014. With Windows XP support slated to end in April 2014, and ISVs and OEMs ending support for it sooner, organizations cannot rely on Windows 8 to succeed Windows XP in their environments.
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