The release date for Microsoft’s Windows 8 is quickly approaching, which will mark a new era for the 37-year old software company. The upcoming operating system will combine the elements of touch screen technology with a traditional PC style interface, creating a completely fresh user experience that Windows has not offered in the past.
Laptop-tablet hybrid devices supporting Windows 8 were revealed at the end of August at Berlin’s IFA conference, but gadgets aren’t the only items that will cater to the software’s dual mentality. Logitech is reportedly testing a mouse designed specifically for Windows 8, sources familiar with the company’s plans said to The Verge. The mouse is said to include gesture support that will pair nicely with the motion-based controls featured in Windows 8, such as the ability to swipe in from the left or right to perform different functions.
The electronics manufacturer is also testing additional gestures that will be integrated into its products to improve the overall Windows 8 experience, according to Tom Warren of The Verge. These new motions, which may or may not appear in existing products and software, will ease those accustomed to the traditional Windows set-up into the new Windows 8.
Other accessories in development at Logitech include a wireless rechargeable touchpad, labeled as model t650, which will be compatible with Windows 8 and Windows RT. This touchpad will include 13 customizable gestures and a glass touch surface with the same shortcuts found in Windows 8.
Microsoft has introduced its own line of accessories that will cater to Windows 8, such as its Wedge Mobile keyboard and Sculpt Comfort keyboard. These devices will play an important role in initiating users with Windows 8, since the entire Windows experience until now has been exclusively keyboard-monitor based with no touch screen interaction. The Wedge Mobile keyboard and the Sculpt Comfort keyboard also include hot keys for Windows 8 Search, Share, Device, and Settings options.
Production Is Underway, But Is Windows 8 Ready?
Windows 8 may prove to be a risky venture for Microsoft—it represents an entirely new entity that expands beyond the comfort zone of both Windows and its user base. CEO Steve Ballmer has expressed complete confidence in the software, but it has received its share of criticism from other heavyweights in the PC industry. The most recent source of criticism came from Intel CEO Paul Otellini, who said that Windows 8 still contains bugs and is not ready to be released yet.
Bloomberg reports Otellini told employees at a company meeting in Taipei on Tuesday that improvements need to be made to the Windows 8 software. Intel is Microsoft’s closest partner, according to Bloomberg, and these criticisms follow the words of analysts who have expressed similar opinions.
“We are concerned at the level of bugs and fine tuning that appears necessary to get the beta systems we demoed ready for prime time,” wrote Alex Guana, analyst at JMP Securities LLC in San Francisco, in a note according to Bloomberg.
However, despite these comments, the Intel CEO also said that he believes releasing Windows 8 before holidays is a smart move for Microsoft. The long-time PC software manufacturer will need this edge to combat iPad sales during the shopping season, and can release bug fixes after the software’s launch.
Windows Phone 8, The Surface Tablet And Microsoft’s Optimistic Outlook
Windows 8 will officially launch on Oct. 26, and Microsoft has sent out invitations for a press event that will showcase the final product.
“You’re invited to celebrate. Windows 8. Please save the date: Thursday, October 25 New York City,” the invitation reads.
This is the company’s second press event of the fall, following a Sept. 5 keynote with Nokia where brand new Windows Phone 8 devices were unveiled. The Nokia Lumia 920 is a higher end device with specs that give Apple’s iPhone 4S some stiff competition, while the Lumia 820 falls in the mid-range smartphone category.
Microsoft may also reveal the price for its Surface tablet at this event, which could land in the $300-$700 range according to a Seattle Times interview with Ballmer.
"If you say to somebody, 'Would you use one of the 7-inch tablets, would somebody ever use a Kindle [Kindle Fire, $199] to do their homework?' The answer is no; you never would," Ballmer told the Seattle Times. "It's just not a good enough product. It doesn't mean you might not read a book on it...If you look at the bulk of the PC market, it would run between, say, probably $300 to about $700 or $800. That's the sweet spot."
Despite criticisms from Intel and Valve chief Gabe Newell, who referred to Windows 8 as a “catastrophe” earlier this summer, Ballmer has nothing short of an ambitious attitude towards the launch of Windows 8.
“You know, Windows 8 is going to do great,” he told the Seattle Times when asked if Microsoft has a backup plan. “I’m not paid to have doubts. I don’t have any. It’s a fantastic product.”
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