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How Microsoft blew its Windows 8 launch keynote

Melissa J. Perenson | Oct. 29, 2012
Microsoft's Windows 8 launch event Thursday could have been a barn burner. The locale, Pier 57 in New York City, is grand, if cavernous. And the occasion itself came preloaded with import: Microsoft would be publicly unveiling its most important operating system since Windows 95.

Microsoft's Julie Larson-Green and Michael Angiulo demonstrated Windows 8's operation, but most of what was shown seemed familiar. In fact, the most useful information dispensed at the event wasn't part of any of the presentations at all: Microsoft supplied attending media with a handy guide to gestures, keyboard shortcuts, and basic Windows 8 navigation. Want to snap an app to the left using your keyboard? No problem: Tap the Windows key + Shift +, and you'll have two apps on your screen, side-by-side.

Open for business

One of the most critical questions that's been hanging over Windows 8 concerns Windows Store apps--and the lack thereof. Apps have been integral to the success of Apple's iPad, and they're a primary reason why the iPad continues to gain momentum while Android tablets receive relatively little consumer love.

So we wanted to hear a big story about apps during Microsoft's keynote. We wanted to hear announcements about new app partnerships. Which critical, popular apps already available in other tablet ecosystems will consumers be able to download at launch? And how quickly will that selection grow?

Microsoft, sadly, glossed right over all of that. In fact, all we heard was a de-emphasis on the number of available apps. Ballmer said, "Some might rush to count apps or look for their favorite apps to arrive in the store" in a dismissal of critics who assign apps too much importance. Microsoft's head honcho also told a tale of developers flocking to Windows 8, but gave no word on big new titles (we already knew Netflix was coming, and the same with Hulu Plus).

Gaming apps? We were told that there's been much activity among developers, but received no specifics. And this from Microsoft, the same company that makes Xbox.

Perhaps more news about apps will be forthcoming at BUILD, Microsoft's developer event that's being held in Seattle next week. But this Thursday was Microsoft's huge opportunity to get the word out that the apps are here, with more coming soon. This news would be especially relevant to would-be buyers of Windows-based tablets. Without a clearer view of the app story, consumers may be reticent to open their wallets to Microsoft's new OS.


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