Microsoft's Windows 8 Release Preview: Analysts Offer Initial Assessments
A look at the Release Preview version of the Microsoft Windows 8 operating system, unveiled May 31, shows that some work still needs to be done before the general availability release, analysts say. However, Microsoft seems to have smoothed out some of the glitches in the Metro user interface in the upcoming OS.
In fact, the latest build of the Microsoft Windows 8 OS shows considerable improvement and considerable promise as a competitor in the tablet OS market, even against the vaunted Apple iPad. Improvements seem to have been made in the user interface from the previous build, but Microsoft indicates it still may make further changes before the release-to-manufacture of the OS and general availability this fall, Rob Enderle, principal analyst with Enderle Group, tells CIO Insight sister publication eWEEK.
The UI is based on the same tiled appearance on the start screen of the Windows Phone 7 OS for smartphones. But Microsoft still has work to do to bridge the touch-screen interface in tablets and some notebooks built on the ARM processor architecture with the mouse interface on x86 desktops, where much work needs to be done. Enderle has a tablet running a beta version of Windows 8 with the Metro interface.
Charles King, president and principal analyst with Pund-IT, a research firm adds that, until this fall, "consumers will have never had the opportunity to test out the thesis of a fullty-functional consumer-focused tablet computer, and Microsoft may have some interesting lessons to teach Apple and some other vendors."
King makes the point that Windows 8 on an ARM-based tablet, and some notebook and small desktop machines, will offer a unique package with the touch-screen capability and a mini version of Microsoft Office suited to the smaller form factor. Meanwhile, Windows 8 for x86 machines, including some laptops and desktop computers, will have the full-blown PC experience suitable to those types of machines. Both may satisfy each type of customer well, he said.