Windows 8, Surface Tablet: Microsoft’s Key Weapons against Apple, Google

The advent of mobile innovations, as manifested by the state-of-the-art smartphone and tablet devices has progressively outpaced the role of PCs these days. In order not to be totally left in arrears, Microsoft has stepped up into mobile on Thursday, introducing the latest version of its flagship Windows OS labeled Windows 8 (Win8), along with its patented pioneering entry into the prevalent slate market — the Surface tablet.

Surface is Microsoft’s first computing tool which is classified as a slate gadget, manufactured after more than 30 years of focusing almost solely on software.

At the New York launching event, Microsoft declared that Windows 8 will officially hit the global markets this Friday, available in 37 languages. The system will go on sale at retail stores and can be downloaded starting 12:01AM (NY time) worldwide.

Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer proudly announced that the new Windows system is perfectly designed for work and play purposes, conveying the best of both PCs and tablets.

Win8 Features and Functions

Win8 is designed to work just well on traditional PCs while providing a high-end experience on tablets. Among the new features and functions embedded in the new Windows 8 OS include the following:

  • Native USB 3.0 support
  • ARM-based support
  • Language and standards support
  • Microsoft account integration
  • Windows store (apps store featuring applications that run on the system)
  • Windows To Go (allows booting from USB Flash drives)
  • Easier System Restore Options
  • Metro-embedded User Interface (optimized for touchscreens)
  • New lock screen (two-way log in)
  • Multi-monitor support (more improved multi-monitor configurations)
  • Windows Explorer Ribbon toolbar (formerly File Explorer)
  • Overhauled Task Manager
  • Internet Explorer 10
  • Family Safety
  • Huge Security improvements
  • Xbox Music integration (music streaming support)

Win8 Hardware Compatibility

In order to run Windows 8 OS, certain hardware requirements should be met. The minimum hardware requirements highlighted by Microsoft for Win8 system to work properly are as follow:

  • 1 GHZ or faster CPU, able to support PAE or PAE-NX Physical Address Extension
  • 1 GB RAM (32-bit) or 2 GB (64-bit)
  • 16 GB hard disk space (32-bit) or 20 GB hard drive space (64-bit)
  • DirectX 9 graphics card with WDDM or higher driver

Screen resolution of at least 1024×768 is also required to download WinRT apps via Windows Store. In order to snap two WinRT apps alongside, a higher screen resolution of at least 1366×768 is needed.

Although the revamped Windows OS is promising great opportunity for Microsoft, some analysts say end-users might not embrace the dramatic changes at first.

Independent tech analyst Jeff Kagan described Microsoft’s new system as huge, bold, very innovative, and a totally different OS. The company however, has failed to offer end-users enough chance to gradually acclimatize with the new operating system’s environment and functionalities.

Toughest retort for Toughest rivals

Microsoft’s latest Windows 8 operating system and Surface tablet represent the software giant’s strongest response to its fiercest rivals Google and Apple, amidst the intense shift from PCs to mobile gadgets. Some experts even deemed it as Microsoft’s best shot against the ruling competitors of these days.

Aside from Windows 8, Microsoft is also launching another Windows software version designed for use on tablets. The new system is called Windows RT, which will be available pre-installed on the latest smartphone and tablet devices, including the company’s Surface tablet.

Microsoft Windows 8 will officially go on sale on Friday, October 26th, 2012, in 140 worldwide markets. Windows-based PC users can also upgrade to the new OS for $39.99.