Microsoft has announced that Windows 8 will release to manufacturing this August, with a general launch of the OS and new hardware happening at the end of October.
Which Will You Do?
So, will it be a software upgrade for you in October, a whole new system, or are you quite happy with Windows 7/XP? With the affordable upgrade initiative announced last week, price is unlikely to be an issue. Your buying decision is largely down to you (or your company) seeing benefit in the new features and services.
Consumers will have a huge raft of new devices to be tempted by, and the onslaught of marketing is likely to be something unseen in many years. The whole customer experience focus of Windows 8, with the Metro interface, Marketplace store for apps and games will finally bring the Windows world into step with tablets and phones, if you like that kind of thing.
On the hardware side, features like Rapid Start and Smart Connect on Ultrabooks and Surface tablets will give hardware companies something new to shout about, after years of droning on about the latest Intel Core baby-step upgrades. New all-in-one PCs will tout their home entertainment features and most existing notebooks and desktops will suddenly start looking very old.
But, with all this positivity and progress, is any of it something you need in your life? If you're happy with Windows 7 will you feel any pressure to upgrade? Do you want to enrol in a whole new Microsoft ecosystem with your PC, tablet and phone all in lockstep?
Wondering About Windows
When the hype has calmed down a little, Microsoft will have years to sell Windows 8, and will generate billions of dollars in revenue. Similarly, hardware partners will sell new PCs aplenty, perhaps not as many as in the desktop and notebook heyday, but enough to push the category on for another generation.
It is Microsoft's play in the tablet and smartphone stakes that will be under pressure and immense scrutiny. The Seattle company won't have years to get back into these markets. Strong results are likely to be needed within 12 to 18 months to catalyze and encourage developers, users and media perception to get behind its formats.
2013 will be one of the most crucial in the company's history, watching events unfold will be an intense experience for fans, analysts, customers and clients, with major rivals trying to unseat the company at every turn.
Amid all this scrutiny, it might be easy to forget a distant question, will there ever be a Windows 9? Yes, in some senses, via gradual upgrades to Windows 8, I think. But, I don't believe we will ever see anything like the Windows 8 launch again. Enjoy it while it lasts.