On 13 Sept 2011, at its Build Conference in Anaheim, California, Microsoft previewed Windows 8 for developers. Microsoft says that Windows 8 will run on hardware configurations that are similar to or lower than those of Windows 7, and that it is adding an ARM edition to run on lower-powered devices. Windows 8 will include a new user interface (UI), similar to that found on Windows Phone 7.
Metro-style applications, aka Windows Runtime applications (formerly called "tailored apps") are designed to be a full-screen, “immersive” experience. Windows 8 is designed for “touch first” but will be enabled for mouse, pen and keyboard as well.
Windows 8 will be a watershed release for Microsoft, which is hoping to reinvigorate its image in the consumer market. While Microsoft's desktop products have been doing well in the enterprise, products from vendors such as Apple have overshadowed Microsoft's offerings in the consumer market. And, as most recently demonstrated by the iPhone and iPad, consumer products are becoming increasingly important in the enterprise, as users bring tools they use at home into work. Windows 8 could enable Microsoft to compete more effectively with Apple in the “media tablet” space, where Microsoft has no offering.
On a cautionary note, Microsoft is not tuning the experience to specific device types, thereby risking that the user experience on any given form factor may be suboptimal.
Microsoft did not disclose a ship date, but Gartner believes it may plan to target back-to-school buyers in 2012 — in which case, the release to manufacturing (RTM) would likely start around April 2012, a date that would allow general availability by midyear. However, even if Microsoft meets that very aggressive timeline, independent software vendors (ISVs) and enterprises will likely need nine to 18 months to obtain and test supported applications and plan deployments. That means that most organizations would not be able to start deploying Windows 8 before YE13. With support for Windows XP ending in April 2014, we believe it would be dangerous for organizations now running XP to attempt to skip Windows 7 and move directly to Windows 8.
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