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How big is Microsoft gambling with Windows 8?

Gregg Keizer, Computerworld | June 3, 2011
Analysts try to parse the risk Microsoft's taking by blending touch with the desktop in one OS

And from her point of view, Windows 8 is the right move by Microsoft to stay abreast of those changes.

"Windows 8 will help stave off the defections from both Microsoft's partners and its customers," Epps argued. "Microsoft is transforming Windows as its defense against defection."

Directions on Microsoft's Miller seconded Epps, to a point.

"I think what they did was to play the best hand that they had," Miller said, referring to Microsoft's need to retain the desktop OS market while tossing its hat in the tablet ring. "This is as good an opportunity as they have, and one of the boldest strokes they've taken in a long, long time."

Gartner's Silver chimed in, too. "Microsoft needs to remain relevant on the desktop, but it's not really just about the desktop anymore, is it?" said Silver.

But with so few details known about Windows 8, and so many questions unanswered, skepticism remained a theme among analysts.

"I'm more positive about this release now than I was before, but lots of questions remain," said Miller.

"Until they can tell us how legacy apps will run on Windows 8 on ARM, I'll have to be bearish on their chances," said Gillen. "That's my biggest concern....Will legacy software run on ARM, [and] if so, how? So far, we don't have any idea, and it's not because we haven't asked."

That's not the only question analysts have that Microsoft hasn't answered about Windows 8. For Miller, the toughest chore Microsoft has is just explaining its Windows 8 strategy in a clear, concise way that everyone can understand.

"Microsoft's biggest challenge between now and RTM [release to manufacturing] will be to clarify for press and analysts the idea of 'two modes' -- touch and the desktop -- of Windows 8," Miller said.


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