Windows 8

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Windows 8

Mac OS X might be a favorite among some consumers, and the enthusiast community cant get enough of Linux, but when its all said and done, its Windows that the vast majority of the world cares about. Microsoft made that abundantly clear at BUILD last week when it showed off Windows 8. The operating system comes with a neat new design and could very well set the new benchmark for how all other operating systems are judged. If Microsoft wasnt the most important firm in the industry, Windows 8 wouldnt matter much. But Microsoft is important, and Windows 8 matters more than any other OS.

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The Tablet Play

With Windows 8, Microsoft will finally be able to make good on its promise of being a force in the tablet space. The upcoming operating system, which is scheduled to launch next year, is designed with tablets in mind. And thanks to Microsofts partnership with ARM, vendors are finally willing to bundle the OS with their devices. Unlike so many other companies that cant change markets, Microsoft is doing that one step at a time with the tablet space, courtesy of Windows 8.

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Beware of Nokia

Right now, Microsofts mobile market share with Windows Phone 7 is abysmal. But that might soon change. In the coming months, Microsofts Windows Phone 7 will be running on Nokia devices, and only then will the race for mobile dominance be on. Nokias popularity in the mobile space might have slipped during the past several years, but its still the top handset maker in the world. And that wont change overnight. Expect Nokia to make Windows Phone 7, and thus Microsoft, a real competitive threat in the handset market.

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Windows Still Reigns Supreme

As mentioned, Windows 8 promises to be an exciting new version of Microsofts operating system. But we cant lose sight of its predecessors. Over the years, Windows has continued to be the dominant force in the operating system market, and Windows 7 has only solidified Microsofts position. As important as Google search and the iPhone are, they pale in comparison to the importance of Windows.

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Look at Office

The same might be said for Microsoft Office. Although there are other productivity suites available to customers, such as OpenOffice, iWork and Google Docs, none of them are on the same level as Microsofts offering. Office is widely used by companies, schools and individuals around the world because of its high-powered features and familiar design. And until that changes, Microsofts grip on the tech world will not weaken.

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The Enterprise Loves It

The corporate world has proven integral to Microsofts success over the years. Companies both big and small rely upon Windows, Office, Internet Explorer, Outlook and countless other programs to complete tasks. And try as they might, neither Apple nor Google have been able to stop that.

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Google's Concern

Google has a target on Microsoft. The search giant has long taken issue with Microsofts practices, and it wants to do all that it can to take it down. Chrome OS was Googles latest shot over Microsofts bow, offering consumers, enterprise users and schools the opportunity to break from Microsofts grasp. However, the OS hasnt taken off, and with Windows 8 around the corner, the chances of that happening seem slimmer by the day. Believe it or not, Google still is concerned with Windows and Microsoft.

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An Android Threat?

Android is the dominant force in the mobile space, and according to analysts, that wont change. But Microsoft might just be a bigger threat to Android than some think. For one, Windows Phone 7 and Windows 8 running on tablets could cut into Android market share. Whats more, Google has a relatively weak patent portfolio that Microsoft has so far capitalized on with lawsuits. Does all that mean Android will be vanquished? No. But it does mean Microsoft is a threat to Android. How many other companies can say that?

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Partnerships Galore

Microsoft has done a much better job over the last couple years of establishing important partnerships with other firms. In 2009, the company signed a search pact with Yahoo to improve its standing on the Web. Its Nokia deal could have a profound impact on its mobile standing. And by partnering with ARM on Windows 8, Microsoft should see its tablet share grow considerably. Simply put, Microsofts partnerships are making the company far more important in several markets.

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Looking around the world, Microsofts Bing search engine has very little market share. And in the United States, it has only about one-quarter of the space (when Yahoo is included). But it has been a major force on the Web, it has made Google think twice about some of its practices and perhaps most importantly, it has provided consumers with an alternative. Bing certainly isnt better than Google search, and its advertising platform has a long way to go to catch up. But Bing is at least putting pressure on Googles core service. And over time, who knows if it might be able to continue to chip away at Googles dominance?

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