It’s not often that Microsoft launches a dramatically revised version of Windows. But when the software giant doesas many expect with the launch of Windows 8it’s big news. And just about every industry stakeholderfrom the company’s consumers to enterprise users to competitorsbecomes interested in what the software will ship with and how it’ll fare in an environment so tied to past ideas. Until all that’s determined, however, many folks have questions.
The sheer number of questions that might arise in discussions on Windows 8 could surprise anyone. After all, with Windows Vista and Windows 7, just about everyone knew what they were getting. And although Microsoft tried to describe the operating systems as major departures from their predecessors, at the end of the day, they really weren’t. But Windows 8 is a totally different story, and could dramatically impact how users interact with Windows.
Realizing that, several questions will need to be answered sooner rather than later. But which questions are more pressing than the others?
1. Will it live up to the security hype?
According to Microsoft and some prominent security experts, Windows 8 is really secure. The operating system is so secure, in fact, that users might only need Windows Defender to prevent malware from getting to the software. Is that really the case or will it fall short? Time will tell.
2. Can it work on tablets?
Microsoft’s upcoming operating system is designed to work on desktops, laptops and tablets. So far, however, Windows hasn’t worked all that well on tablets, and there’s no telling if Windows 8 will suffer the same fate. Microsoft says it won’t, but who knows if that’s the case?
3. Will vendors really want it?
So far, a few vendors have already committed to Windows 8, including Hewlett-Packard, Dell and Lenovo. But the real question over time will revolve around their dedication to the platform. Those same companies fled Windows when Vista wasn’t popular. Now that Windows 8 is shipping with a dramatically different user experience, customers might not adopt the operating system. And once again, vendors might not play nice with Microsoft.
4. How will the enterprise respond?
The corporate world is the biggest question mark facing Windows 8 right now. The enterprise has historically contributed significantly to the success or failure of a Windows operating system, and it’ll be no different this time around. Will the enterprise embrace Windows 8 and make it a success, or will it stick with Windows 7?
How Well Will Windows 8 Compete in Tablet Market?
5. How will it compete against Android, iOS?
Interestingly, this will be the first Windows version to compete head-on with both Apple iOS and Google Android in the tablet market. That means Windows 8-based tablets will be competing against the iPad, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 from Samsung and even the Amazon Kindle Fire. How will Windows 8 devices hold up?
6. Will users go back to Classic?
Microsoft made the smart move of allowing customers who want to use the classic Windows user interface to do that from the platform. It should be rather interesting to see how many of those folks go back to Classic and ditch Microsoft’s new Metro interface. As nice as its design might be, looks aren’t everything.
7. Is this really the new Windows 95?
Microsoft has said that Windows 8 will effectively be the next Windows 95, initiating a major shift in the way the operating system acts and looks over the coming years. In other words, Microsoft is retiring old conceptsincluding the Start button. But once the company launches release candidates and gets a full feel for how consumers feel about the operating system, it might have a change of tune. Remember: This is Microsoft, a company that has made several last-minute OS changes in the past.
8. How will ARM integration work?
ARM processors will finally be supported in Windows 8. However, there are a slew of question marks surrounding that support, including how applications will be handled, whether the experience will be different using devices with those chips and more. Hopefully, Microsoft won’t make everyone wonder how ARM will work until the devices launch later this year.
9. When will it launch?
All this talk of Windows 8 leaves out one very important question: When will the operating system launch? At this point, all signs point to an October launch. But until Microsoft confirms that, take it with a grain of salt.
10. How will it respond to ‘Mountain Lion’?
Apple has surprised many industry watchers by announcing plans to launch a new version of its own desktop operating system, Mac OS X “Mountain Lion,” later this year. The move is designed to bring more iPad-like ideas to Macs, and it appears to be a shot over Microsoft’s Windows 8 bow. It should be interesting to see how Windows 8 and Microsoft respond to Mountain Lion and handle what will almost certainly be a deluge of excitement surrounding the Apple operating system’s launch.