Windows 8, according to a new Gartner report, essentially represents a big gamble by Microsoft and a necessary one.
The multi-platform operating system, the market research firm said on Monday, is the software giant's biggest thrust to date that hopefully will finally make it a major player in the mobile computing industry.
Windows 8 and Office 2013 will be rolled out globally by late October this year and the launch, Gartner said, is best exemplified by uncertain prospects for the products that were engineered in a completely altered computing era.
With hundreds of millions of computer machines run by different Windows versions, Microsoft indeed had a 'powerhouse' on its core product, which happened to be one of the tech giant's main source of revenue, Gartner Vice President Michael Silver said in a press release yesterday.
However, the advent of mobile computing devices in the past half-decade, mostly coming from Apple and Android gadget makers, has radically changed the global computing landscape, in which "the PC is increasingly simply a peer with other devices," Mr Silver said.
"Smartphones and tablets, led by the iPhone and iPad, have changed the way people work, making the PC just one of several devices people use," he added.
While Microsoft chief executive has been quite upbeat on Windows 8 overall prospects, even predicting earlier this year that the OS will eventually power some 500 million devices, the truth remains that the company is relying on nothing concrete insofar as acceptability of product is concerned, the new Gartner report said.
Even in the traditional desktop market, Microsoft's enterprise customers have yet to fully embrace the product that Windows 8 will replace, the Windows 7, Mr Silver said.
In real setting, the most dominant Windows version remains the XP and for the new OS to actually realise its revenue potentials "organisations will need to decide whether they continue with Windows 7 and or consider Windows 8," the Gartner executive added.
The risk is there that Microsoft will encounter difficulties in convincing its traditional market to jump into Windows 8 bandwagon more so because the new OS is perceived to be overly configured for smartphones and tablets, Gartner said.
That is a definite turn-off for Microsoft's key revenue generators, which practically represent the global PC market, according to the Gartner report.
"Making radical changes to Windows poses a risk for Microsoft as organisations like to reduce technology risk by deploying mature, stable, well-supported products," the report added.
The risk, however, is deliberately overlooked by Microsoft because it is "leveraging . . . not only to enter the tablet market, but also to improve its share of the smartphone market," Mr Silver said.
Also, "it is a risk that Microsoft must take to stay relevant in a world where mobile devices with new modern experiences are becoming the norm," the report stressed.
And if it turned out that its ploy was worth the risk, which will be validated by the increased users' presence on Windows ecosystem, Microsoft is likely to trigger a new era that is centred on Windows 8, Steve Kleynhans, Gartner's vice president for research, said.
"Microsoft eras seem to run about 20 years, so the technology underlying Windows 8 will last a long, long time," Mr Kleynhans predicted.
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