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NEW OPERATING SYSTEM

Ballmer speaks at the launch of Windows 8 system in New York.

Windows 8 will open new chapter: Ballmer

New York, October 25, 2012

Microsoft Corp launched its new Windows 8 operating system and Surface tablet on Thursday in a bid to revive interest in its flagship product and regain ground lost to Apple Inc and Google Inc in mobile computing.

Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer said he expects the Windows 8 operating system to open a new chapter in the company's history and thrust it back into the forefront of technology.

"We've reimagined Windows and we've reimagined the whole PC industry," Ballmer told Reuters Television early Thursday ahead of the launch.

"In addition to notebooks and desktops, we introduce the PC as tablet," said Ballmer. "Work. Play. Tablet. PC. Boom! One product," he added.

Windows 8 devices and the company's new Surface tablet, which aims to challenge Apple's popular iPad head on, go on sale at midnight on Thursday.

Steven Sinofsky, head of Microsoft's Windows unit and the driving force behind Windows 8, opened the launch event in New York in front about 1,000 media and PC industry partners.

He showed off Windows 8's new look, but stressed that the system was built upon the base of Windows 7, Microsoft's best-selling software that recently passed 670 million license sales.

The new design of Windows, which dispenses with the Start button and features square tiles for apps, may surprise some users. Initial demand appeared solid, but customers were wary.

Early reviews of the Surface tablet were mixed, with praise for its slick hardware, but concerns about battery life and limited software and applications available.

"We've seen steady pre-order sales on Windows 8 devices from early adopters," said Merle McIntosh, senior vice president of product management at online electronics retailer Newegg.

"However, we expect that most average consumers are waiting until after launch to make a purchase decision."

Investors were uncertain about the prospects for success of Windows 8, but many feel a solid launch could help Microsoft's stock, which has languished between $20 and $30 for much of the last decade.

Apple's shares have significantly outperformed Microsoft's over the past 10 years, and its market value is now more than double Microsoft's. Microsoft was little changed at $27.87; Apple fell 0.7 percent at $612.73.

"This really is about debunking the notion that Microsoft is a dinosaur and they are relevant in a new climate of tablets and mobile," said Todd Lowenstein, portfolio manager at HighMark Capital Management, which holds Microsoft shares.

"Extreme pessimism and almost utter failure is priced into the shares, so any kind of positive delivery on units, customer perception, would be really beneficial to the stock."

The world's largest software company is desperate for the new-look, touch-friendly Windows 8 to grip customers' imaginations, as it looks to regain lost ground to Apple and Google in mobile computing and shake up the moribund PC market.
 
Microsoft is doubling down on its bet with its own tablet called the Surface, available only through its own stores and website, which will challenge Apple's iPad head on.
 
"We have a device that's uniquely good at being a tablet and a PC (with) no compromise on either one," said Ballmer.
 
Ballmer, who took over as Microsoft CEO from co-founder Bill Gates in 2000, is taking the company away from its foundations in software to become more of a hardware and services company, like long-time rival Apple.
 
"We're all in on this," Ballmer said, adding that 10,000 applications would be available at launch and Windows 8 devices would be available at a variety of prices.
 
"You'll find these things everywhere this holiday season. You walk into any retailer that sells electronics, other than an Apple retailer, you will see Windows 8 machines all over the place from Acer, from Samsung, from Dell, from Toshiba, Sony, Lenovo and many others." - Reuters



Tags: Microsoft | Ballmer | Operating system | Windows 8 |

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