News Analysis: A lot of chatter emanating from Microsoft headquarters indicates Windows 8 could be released as early as next year. Microsoft needs to make sure that it doesn't stumble with this new generation coming as it seems close on the heels of the successful Windows 7.
2011 continues to tick away, an increasing number of rumors coming out of
Redmond are starting to crop up. The vast majority of those rumors are
revolving around Windows 8 and the future of Microsoft's operating system.
Speculation abounds that the new OS will have faster boot-up times, an
application marketplace and a slightly improved design. It's expected to be
released next year.
now, Microsoft has been publicly focusing its efforts on Windows 7, the
fastest-selling version of its operating system ever released. But behind
closed doors, it knows all too well that there is a lot riding on Windows 8. If
it's a success, Microsoft can keep major competitors-most notably, Google-at
bay. But if it's a failure the way Vista was, it could find itself in a very
bad situation that could see it lose its power grip in the OS market.
8 will simply be the most important operating system Microsoft has released yet
And here's why:
1. Mac OS X Lion looks impressive
Windows 8 launches next year, it will be up against Mac OS X Lion, an operating
system that Apple plans to discuss at the Worldwide Developers Conference in June.
Mac OS X Lion, which should launch over the summer, won't be able to overcome
Microsoft's operating system market share. But it could be the benchmark by
which Windows 8 is judged. If
Microsoft's option fails to live up to
the standard set by Apple's OS,
expect the market to take notice. It could be Windows Vista all over again, and
Microsoft doesn't need that.
2. Chrome OS is still out there
the coming Windows 8 and Mac OS X Lion are getting much of the attention
nowadays, it's important to remember that Google's Chrome OS platform is being
prepared to take on those operating systems. Like Lion, Chrome OS won't steal
significant market share from Microsoft in the short term. But if Windows 8
turns out to be a loser, consumers will undoubtedly shift their attention to
Google's option to see if it's a good fit.
3. The app store
abounds that Windows 8 will come with an applications market similar to the Mac
App Store running in Mac OS X Snow Leopard. App stores are the future of
desktop operating systems because developers and buyers are seeing quite a bit
of value in them. If Microsoft's app marketplace steals the show, it can
maintain its development lead over Apple. But if the marketplace falls short
and the App Store leads the way in desktop apps, Mac OS X might prove to be a
bigger threat to Microsoft than it is today.
4. It can't take another step back
off the success that was Windows XP, most expected Vista to be a winner. But it
wasn't. And Microsoft needed Windows 7 to save the day. Now that Windows 7 has
caught on with consumers and enterprise customers alike,
Microsoft cannot afford to have another setback
. The software giant must
prove that it can string a couple of successes together in a row. That should
allay any lingering fears about its focus on desktop operating systems.