Apple's iPad 3

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Apple's iPad 3

Current rumor suggests that Apple will debut the next iPad in early March. Whatever the features of the iPad 3 (as everyone's calling it at the moment), the device will almost certainly reinforce Apple's dominance of the space and cause trouble for any newcomers like Windows 8.

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Samsung Tablets

Although sales numbers for Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 don't match those of the iPad, the manufacturer has managed to establish itself as a serious player in the tablet arena. A solid Android alternative could peel off potential customers for Windows 8 tablets.

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Windows 7

In the past three years since its release, hundreds of millions of people have purchased Windows 7. Moreover, the operating system attracted strong reviews from both users and the tech media. Given all that, will all those Windows 7 owners rush out to purchase Windows 8?

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Windows XP

Windows XP is a full decade old, and yet millions of people still rely on it for daily tasks-despite Windows 7 eating away at its market share. Windows 8 will need to convince those XP users to give up the old war-horse once and for all.

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Mac OS X

Apple's iPad isn't Windows 8's only Cupertino-created opponent: Mac OS X Lion will challenge Microsoft's new operating system for both desktop and laptop users.

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Businesses remain a significant market for Microsoft, and a key audience for each new release of Windows. But the recent bring-your-own-device trend (in which employees use their personal devices in a workday context) could create issues for Windows 8 as it seeks to become the dominant OS on both traditional PCs and more mobile form factors, as it brings a flood of new contenders (iPads, Macs) into the enterprise and small and midsized businesses.

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Although Google's Chrome OS doesn't exactly present an existential threat to Windows, the increasing popularity of the cloud could lead to an uptick in sales for Google Chromebooks, which rely exclusively on the cloud-based operating system. That could eat into Windows 8 sales.

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