Things are changing at Microsoft. The company is embarking on a strategy that has cloud and mobile computing at its core. Software previously monopolised on Windows is being made available to customers of rivalling platforms. Investments are being made in innovative technologies, the likes of holographic headsets and interactive screens spanning 84-inches. And tying all of it together is one unified and seamless operating system.
Windows 8 Central: Features
In his last letter to shareholders, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer hammered on the same themes he and other execs struck three weeks ago before Wall Street analysts.
Steve Ballmer isn't necessarily a bad CEO. After all, Microsoft's on strong financial footing. But Ballmer made enough bad product decisions - Zune, Kin, Vista and perhaps Surface - to suggest that Microsoft employees, swayed by a forced-ranking employee rating system, told him what he wanted to hear, not what he needed to hear. If that culture doesn't change, Ballmer's replacement will fare even worse than he did.
Is Windows RT dead? We investigate the past, present and future of Microsoft's cut-down mobile Windows 8 operating system.
They're just five words, but those five words hold a universe of importance to Microsoft.
Sitting face-to-face with regional resellers in Queensland lets you catch a glimpse of the ‘smaller town’ mentality, where customer loyalty and old-fashioned service are paramount.
Computers just aren't selling like they used to, and many critics, analysts, and longtime Windows users point the blame finger at one culprit in particular: Windows 8. Nobody's using Windows 8, they say. It's worse than New Coke, they say. PC shipments are cratering and it's all Windows 8's fault, they say.
We've had about six months to play with Windows 8 (like it or not) and with the first generation of hardware designed for the new OS. So now, with PCs based on Intel's Haswell CPU poised on the horizon, it's time to take stock of the best Windows 8 hardware available today. You may be able to snap one up for a bargain-basement price as the industry clears out inventory in anticipation of second-gen machines.
Companies make bad decisions all the time. Some of those decisions do irreparable harm, but others--like forcing users to boot to the new Modern interface in Windows 8, and taking away the Start button--can be reversed. Microsoft needs to ask whether it makes sense to backpedal.
It should've been awkward. This year's CES is the first show since Microsoft's amicable split with the Consumer Electronics Association. Redmond severed deep ties, giving up an annual booth in a marquee floor spot, and sidelining the dynamic duo of Ballmer and Gates, who had warmed up the crowd at 15 of the past 18 opening keynotes. Going in to this year's show, we expected the ambiance to match that first uncomfortable Thanksgiving dinner after your parents get divorced.
Microsoft made big bets on Windows 8, Windows Phone and Surface tablets in 2012, and now it needs to make those bets to pay off. As more consumers and businesses go mobile, 2013 will be Microsoft's most challenging year yet.
Even in the best of times, businesses don't like upgrading their PC operating systems. The process is expensive and time-consuming, and usually demands retraining a technically challenged workforce. And now Windows 8 threatens to make workplace system swaps even less attractive than before.
The first time you boot up your shiny new Windows 8 tablet and witness Microsoft's live tiles in all their constantly shifting, multi-hued glory, it's only natural to want to dive into the Windows Store and try a few apps out for yourself. Just one problem, though: There are tens of thousands of Windows 8 apps available, and Microsoft doesn't do a great job of directing people to the cream of the crop.
Laptops used to be simple. Almost all of them had a clamshell design, with a display that folded onto the keyboard. You picked the laptop you needed based on factors like price, weight, and performance. But it's different today: New form factors, different operating systems, and disparate user needs conspire to make choosing a laptop a complex chore.
PC gaming is primed for a renaissance—or at least a reinvention—like we haven’t seen since the advent of 3D acceleration in the late 1990s. For this, we can thank the mobile revolution and all its attendant technologies. Game developers can now tap into accelerometers, touchscreens, and the cloud to add new features and gameplay scenarios. And even Microsoft’s comprehensive approach to Windows—merging desktops, tablets, and smartphones under a common code base—is changing the ways in which game creators should approach their work.
Desktop users deserve a significant rethink of the Windows 8 gaffes and omissions for the next version of Windows
For all the talk about the advantages of Windows 8 over Windows 7—for example, account sync, better multiple monitor support, and faster startup times—some people just can't get past Windows 8's radical shift in user interface. Some may even want to ditch Windows 8 altogether in favor of Windows 7 after spending a few days with the new OS.
Windows-based all-in-one PCs once earned little respect. While most of today's AIOs still lack the graphics horsepower for hard-core gaming (we'll show you one exception), the best models are far removed from the 98-pound weaklings of yore.
Windows 8 comes preloaded with plenty of apps for basic productivity and entertainment, but they're not necessarily the best you can do. We've already mentioned the apps you should download first, but now we want to share some third-party apps that you might like more than what Microsoft includes in its basic Windows 8 installation.
Microsoft seems to have gotten its groove back, putting forward a hip, Apple-esque branding effort for the Windows 8 products that reflects new energy in Redmond.