Stability coupled with a flashy user interface will be the main selling points when Microsoft holds a lavish event Tuesday for the official launch of its new Windows XP operating system.
Microsoft will stay close to home for the launch, choosing a venue in Seattle, Washington, to unveil its heavily retooled OS in front of press and analysts. Bill Gates, chairman and chief software architect at Microsoft, will kick the event into high gear as he walks the crowd through new features in the OS that amount to a veritable multimedia assault.
Formerly code named "Whistler", Windows XP should arrive by the fourth quarter and is expected to appeal mostly to consumers. The operating system was designed with a heavy focus on running media-rich applications to entice the Generation X crowd, or media-savvy people in their 30s, analysts said.
Windows XP comes with improved applications for working with digital photos, enhanced music and video controls and CD burning software, Enderle said. Microsoft has said the software will make it easier to create, organise and share images and other media files.
Users should also be pleased to find an OS with improved stability. Windows XP is Microsoft's first operating system geared towards consumers that uses the same code-base as Windows 2000 and NT, which target business users.
"There will be a vastly improved user experience, particularly for the 9x users," Enderle said, referring to Windows 95 and Windows 98. "It is far more stable, reliable and secure than the 9x base. Unlike Windows 95, this actually delivers on the promises."
Tuesday's launch will also mark an attempt by Microsoft to sell its software on a subscription basis -- a strategy it hopes will strengthen revenue down the road, according to Le Tocq.
"When you purchase Windows XP you will buy it at a low [cost] but will have to agree to pay each year," he said. "Our recommendation on the business side is that organisations not pay any more than 25 per cent of the upgrade price. I am sure Microsoft will go over that, but the question is by how much."