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Windows 8 Update: Ballmer redefines the PC

Tim Greene | Sept. 18, 2012
Just as the world is coming to grips with the post-PC era the CEO of PC software behemoth Microsoft, Steve Ballmer, seems to be trying to prolong the age by redefining the iconic business machine to include tablets.

If you look at the bulk of the PC market, it would run between, say, probably $300 to about $700 or $800. That's the sweet spot.

The price is the ballpark range that people pay for an iPad but without a keyboard. It's a different price bracket than that occupied by Amazon's Kindle fire, and the Surface itself has a broader set of capabilities.

Windows 8 for games

Microsoft has teamed up with the cloud-based gaming company Agawi in order to stream games to users of Windows 8 devices, the companies say.

The games would be based in Microsoft's Azure cloud and be streamed to whatever Windows 8 device the customer had -- tablet, laptop, PC.

The goal of the partnership is to make it easier for developers to create games that scale without having to worry about how that will be accomplished. That will be taken care of by the Agawi/Microsoft back end, they say.

Agawi demoed some of the games at Cloud Gaming USA this week.

Meanwhile, Microsoft also plans to open an interactive entertainment studio in London this November that will focus on using Windows 8 devices as the underlying technology.

The goal is to build a business that focuses on entertainment-as-a-service that can be sold to users of Windows 8 tablets such as the Surface devices Microsoft is making itself to best show off the new operating system.

The new studio "will allow Microsoft Studios to explore the many creative and business opportunities that developing new games and entertainment experiences on Windows 8 tablet devices and platforms will afford," says Lee Schuneman, who will head up the studio. So far the studio hasn't been named.

Free Surface tablets for Microsoft workers

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer promised at the annual company gathering that all 90,000 full-time Microsoft employees will get free Surface tablets, a Windows 8 PC and a Windows Phone 8 phone.

Employees get to use the tablets and phones for whatever they want, but the PCs are for work only, according to posts on Twitter.

Of course there is a top-of-line Surface model that has the processing power of a PC, so the promise of a tablet and a PC could be fulfilled with a single device.

Office preview at Windows 8 launch

When Windows 8 on ARM-based devices -- Windows RT -- launches Oct. 26, the version of Office applications bundled with it will just be preview versions, Microsoft says.

These tablet devices only run applications designed specifically for Windows 8 (Microsoft calls them modern apps) with the exception of specially crafted versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote.

But the final version of these Office apps won't be ready when Windows RT becomes generally available, Microsoft says in a blog.


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