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February 28th, 2012

Windows 8

Windows 8 is coming. Really! Microsoft has mailed invitations to a media event they are holding at Mobile World Congress 2012. The company will announce some new products, new developments – and new vocabulary. “Beta software” packages, the full-featured versions that follow “Developer Previews” and engage millions of users in debugging the final commercial release, will now be called “Consumer Previews.”

More importantly, though, there’s a change in the Windows “design vocabulary.” Windows 8 is a dramatic “re-imagining” (in Microsoft’s marketing vocabulary) that follows the “design language” of Metro, the user interface (UI) initially developed for Windows Phone 7. Following the lackluster Vista OS, Windows 7 – installed on most every PC desktop computer rental from CRE – offered both cosmetic and operational improvements a-plenty. Elements of desktop and mobile UIs are combined in Metro.

From desktop to mobile

Microsoft typically makes Consumer Previews available on the day they are announced. The company has always had special flavors of its OS tweaked for 1990s handhelds or today’s tablet PC rentals, so its decision to release the Windows 8 Consumer Preview at the Mobile World Congress is a strong signal that the firm will push Windows 8 very hard in the mobile market.

In mid-September 2011, Microsoft released the Windows 8 Developer Preview. In 90 days the unfinished OS was downloaded over 3 million times, more than the total downloads for the feature-filled Windows 7 beta in early 2009. Compared to the Developer Preview, the Consumer Preview targets a broader audience and could account for up to 10 million downloads, given the level of interest and how much is at stake.

Wanted: Bug reports

The Windows 8 Developer Preview was incomplete, but the Consumer Preview should have nearly full implementation of new features. People will install it on all kinds of PCs, as well as on the iMac and every other Macintosh from laptops to towers (since Macs run Windows). Millions of bug reports will help Microsoft refine and finish the product.

There are doubtless a few Microsoft executives, marketing directors and product managers mulling over the following points:

Feedback is mixed – Microsoft has already received tons of feedback about the Metro look and feel. The relatively recent builds demoed at CES 2012 incorporated user feedback in an attempt to blunt the criticism.

Windows “true believers” – A hard-core minority will always resist change, but will have to accept it this time around since the final release will most likely not have a “classic” option.

A new course – Apple left OS 9 and Motorola processors in the dust as OS X matured and the Mac Pro became the media professional’s go-to gear. As Microsoft charts a new course, we’ll keep you posted as we follow along!

CRE is a leader, not a follower, when it comes to providing post-production gear, trade show rentals, A/V equipment, plasma display rentals, touch screen PCs, workstations and computers. Call or e-mail an Account Executive, or use our Quick Rental Quote form, to get the right tool for the right job – right away, too!

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