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March 8th, 2012

Microsoft debuted the Consumer Preview (beta) version of its Windows 8 Operating System (OS) recently, looking for the public’s input (read: free troubleshooting) for a critically important product designed to run on devices big and small. Now that laptops and tablets outsell desktops, we’re seeing the same thing from Apple – the convergence of its legacy desktop system, OS X (now at 10.7.3), with elements from the newfangled smartphone/tablet system, iOS (now at version 5).

OS…aging but not obsolete

This convergence is more of a challenge to Microsoft than to Apple. New Macintoshes like the iMac will only run the latest versions of OS X, and those will only run on post-2006, Intel-based Macs. On the other hand, both new and old PCs will run XP, Vista, Windows 7 and, soon enough, Windows 8. This is the “product line fragmentation” that Microsoft has been trying to resolve for years, despite its leading to such niche products as the special “pen-based” OS installed on our tablet PC rentals.

XP is now an 11-year-old platform. Although it still reigns as the most popular Windows OS, and is a popular choice for a PC desktop computer rental, it is gradually giving way to Windows 7. NetApplications, the research firm that tracks such things, reports that XP’s market share slipped from 47 percent in January 2012 to 45 in February. In this same period, Windows 7 added what XP lost, rising from 36 to 38 percent of all users. Vista is a distant third at roughly 8 percent.

The future’s spelled “8″

Since its debut in October 2009, Windows 7 has gained ground every month. It has picked up XP users slowly – but Vista users quickly. It was Vista, in fact, that introduced some of the design elements of the new Windows 8 look and feel. You can still rent laptops with Vista if you need it, but Microsoft wants users to move from XP and Vista to Windows 7, in accordance with the firm’s “Map for the Future.” Microsoft does not want XP and Vista users waiting for the commercial release of Windows 8.

Microsoft is reminding everyone, especially firms with large numbers of PCs, that official support for XP ends April 6, 2014. After that, no more updates, bug fixes, security tweaks or patches. Despite the fact that it would make for a more efficient transition, the firm will not require XP or Vista users to install Windows 7 before upgrading to Windows 8. (The Windows 8 Consumer Preview download has install-in-place options for XP, Vista and 7.) They may have their druthers, but Microsoft will take Windows 8 users any way it can get ‘em.

Need a desktop computer with Windows OS?  Simply call or e-mail CRE Rentals to get an experienced Account Executive to assist you, or use the Quick Rental Quote form if you know what you need. We’re always ready with the right solution at the right price – right now!

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