Oct 25 - Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is looking to shake up the computer world with Windows 8, a touchscreen version of the software giant's popular operating system, and its tablet Surface, in what could be the final death knell for the personal computer as we know it. Conway G. Gittens reports.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is looking to shake up the computer world with Windows 8, a touchscreen version of the software giant's popular operating system, and its tablet Surface, in what could be the final death knell for the personal computer as we know it. Microsoft, in one of its boldest moves to date, is combining software and hardware in a move that could make the traditional PC obsolete. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer: SOUNDBITE: STEVE BALLMER, CEO, MICROSOFT (ENGLISH) SAYING: "This is a full PC. It's a full PC. It's not a tablet. Yes it is a tablet and it's a PC. This is a Windows personal computer." The software giant is blurring the lines, launching its Surface tablet, as it tries to play catch up to the mobile success of Apple and Google, which is eating away at traditional PC sales. SOUNDBITE: STEVE BALLMER, CEO, MICROSOFT (ENGLISH) SAYING: "We've brought the best of both together and so we reinvigorate. We reinvent. We innovate in the PC category by graduating from just doing desktops and notebooks and laptops to also doing PC tablets." But this strategy is not without risks. Say goodbye to the start icon on the bottom of the screen and hello to "charms," which are command buttons hidden on the side, and tiles which show which apps are available for use. This could put off traditional Windows users warns Ross Rubin of Reticle Research. SOUNDBITE: ROSS RUBIN, PRINCIPAL ANALYST, RETICLE RESEARCH (ENGLISH) SAYING: "There is definitely a lot of switching between the old style and new style interface when you use Windows 8 and it can be a jarring transition at first." REPORTER STANDUP: CONWAY G. GITTENS, REUTERS REPORTER (ENGLISH) SAYING: "This is where it all starts and Microsoft isn't taking any chances. Not only will Windows 8 and the several devices be available in retail outlets but Microsoft is opening up its own pop-up stores in the United States to make sure consumers understand the new look and the new feel of Windows." Some say Windows 8 and the Surface have a real chance a taking on the Apple iPad this holiday season, with a similar price point to the iPad. Colin Gillis of BGC Partners likes what he sees. SOUNDBITE: COLIN GILLIS, ANALYST, BGC PARTNERS (ENGLISH) SAYING: "You can't be stagnant in technology, so will existing users all migrate? Of course not, but you're still going to have 4-and-1/2 million devices sold over the next year that are going to carrying Windows 8. That's a significant number." Ballmer, who is far from shy, wouldn't give up any predictions before the products go on sale at Midnight, but some analysts wonder if consumers have enough confidence in the economy to shell out for unproven hardware or software.