Windows 8 has prompted the launch of new hybrid computers which can function as a standalone tablet or be connected to a keyboard to act as a touch-enabled laptop.
Windows 8 marks what is arguably the most radical tech launch of the year.
Its market-leading status is at stake.
More than 1.5 billion devices currently use a version of
Windows, making it by far the most installed operating system, according
to tech research firm Gartner.
But investors are more concerned about the firm's growth prospects amidst growing competition for customers' cash.
"We think the industry changed with the iPad launch because
the tablet is effectively a PC - it doesn't need to be connected to a
network to work and runs third-party applications," Steve Brazier, chief
executive of research firm Canalys, says.Windows 8 introduces a new user interface designed to be operated via a touchscreen "Once you segment the market that way, Windows share of the
global PC market has fallen to 72%. Three years ago that would have been
"If you add the PC market together to the smartphone market -
which we call the intelligent device sector - Windows share falls to
Windows 8 and its close relation Windows Phone 8 are designed
to reverse that trend. One thing is certain: Microsoft's efforts will
have industry-wide ramifications.
A study by Gartner indicates worldwide PC shipments were 8.3%
lower than the previous year in the July-to-September quarter. That
spells trouble for companies including HP, Dell and Acer which have seen
sales decline as a consequence.
A successful launch might recharge demand, but first they
must face the prospect of a challenge from Microsoft's own tablet,
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