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Hurry Up With Windows 8, Microsoft

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Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) needs to get a move on.

The software giant has a lot riding on the next major iteration of its flagship operating system, Windows 8, most notably its tablet prospects. Windows 8 represents a lot of Microsoft's mobile strategy, as future versions of Windows Phone will probably take many cues and technical features from its tablet- and PC-bound brethren.

According to a recent Bloomberg report, the company is scheduled to put the finishing touches on Windows 8 by summer, with a planned debut in October. Mr. Softy is looking for an aggressive global rollout with devices running both Intel (Nasdaq: INTC  ) and ARM Holdings (Nasdaq: ARMH  ) chips, just in time for the holiday shopping season.

Microsoft hasn't made any official announcements on Windows 8's release schedule, but it was already widely expected by year's end. Bloomberg cites the October timing to a standardly vague "people with knowledge of the schedule." It's particularly credible since Microsoft needs to get its tablet strategy off the ground.

If Microsoft gets hit with delays or holdups, it's going to miss the important holiday season, and an early 2013 release would put it almost head-to-head with when Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) is likely to unveil the fourth-generation iPad -- an unenviable position for any iPad rival.

Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) is just now putting some serious effort into its tablet game, too, with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich being the first fleshed-out version of the OS that's fit for tablets. Android chief Andy Rubin has already said that Big G will "double down" on tablets this year, and the search kingpin might even be preparing to release a Nexus Tablet.

Android 5.0 Jelly Bean will also probably see a fall release to compete with Windows 8. I still happen to think Windows 8 will eat Android's tablet lunch, since Android's overall tablet performance has been mostly underwhelming thus far.

As usual, Microsoft is late to the mobile party. Windows 8 has a lot of lost time to make up.

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Fool contributor Evan Niu owns shares of ARM Holdings and Apple, but he holds no other position in any company mentioned. Check out his holdings and a short bio. The Motley Fool owns shares of Google, Intel, Apple, and Microsoft. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Intel, Google, Microsoft, and Apple and creating a bull call spread position in Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Read/Post Comments (8) | Recommend This Article (3)

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  • Report this Comment On March 21, 2012, at 9:33 PM, Klippenstein wrote:

    What do the rest of you think about how Microsoft could market Windows 8 most effectively? At first blush, my view is that Windows 8 should ship in three versions (products). 1) iPad neutralizer/android killer... metro interface only (so novice iPad like users are not confused by "Windows desktop" 2) Windows 7 (carefully preserving GUI desktop version -- including the Start button) and 3) Hybrid version (both metro and Windows desktop combined. These versions could share the common code base -- as they do. Perhaps options 1 and 2 could allow a migration to the hybrid version of option 3 for an additional price, if people want it. My fear is that if they ship Windows 8 as a one size fits all version, they will both scare people wanting only a tablet with the complexity of the Windows 7 desktop and, on the other hand, annoy happy traditional windows users because they have to "wave" through metro to get to the Windows desktop they know and love.

  • Report this Comment On March 22, 2012, at 12:10 AM, Tracer2 wrote:

    Klippenstein, what?

    First, MS has already said that x86 software will not be supported in the Metro Tablet world so scenarios 2 and 3 are out right off.

    So Win8/Metro is all you get on ARM processors and that will be all new for Microsoft.

    My big question is Security.

    So far MS is stating additional security software will be recommended. What in the world are they thinking? User's will still be sacrificing processor cycles, battery power and other resources to plug Microsoft's security holes!!!

    And as for Win8/Metro Tablets in Enterprise? Currently MS says no IT control.

    The Product Guide says manageability will not be among the features on Windows 8 devices that run on ARM processors, such as tablets. "Although the ARM-based version of Windows does not include the same manageability features that are in 32-bit and 64-bit versions, businesses can use these power-saving devices in unmanaged environments."

    To do so requires a USB stick with the user's config and data that has to be plugged into a Win7/Win8 computer.

    WT heck I can't do work on a Metro tablet?

    I'm thinking Microsoft is still 18 months away from something decent and the bar they need to meet is getting higher all the time. Will the world be as forgiving as they were with Windows on desktops.

  • Report this Comment On March 22, 2012, at 1:17 AM, jdwelch62 wrote:

    They've got a lot riding on this, and the folks in Redmond aren't idiots. My guess is there won't be a One-Size-Fits-All packaging, but options like what you've laid out, Klip. Don't forget that there are supposed to be hybrid Ultrabooks out about the same time that you will have the flexibility of using as either a tablet or a traditional laptop. I think having simple options & flexibility will be the key...

  • Report this Comment On March 22, 2012, at 1:20 AM, jdwelch62 wrote:

    I have more faith in Redmond in 2012 than you seem to have, Tracer2... Time will tell...

  • Report this Comment On March 22, 2012, at 12:47 PM, lucasmonger wrote:

    MS is already too late. Just like the Zune was doomed for failure, MS's tablet offerings will struggle to keep up. The only redeeming value left is to offer well-written versions of Outlook, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint for tablets to sweeten the deal. But those codes are too bloated today and need a major trimming to work well on a tablet. And I don't see any indication from Microsoft that they can turn around their culture.

  • Report this Comment On March 22, 2012, at 1:13 PM, CluckChicken wrote:

    Tracer2 x86 will not be supported on ARM processor machines. That is why you will not see ARM based tablets at launch. Yes you should run anti-virus software on a Win8 system, just like you should (if possible) on your Apple or Andriod systems. (yes iOS has security issues:

    Klippenstein I can see MS going with basically one version of the OS but allowing the OEMs to disable the 'classic desktop' feature for tables and allowing end users with laptops or desktops to select either Metro or classic desktop or a mix.

  • Report this Comment On March 22, 2012, at 1:22 PM, CluckChicken wrote:

    As for a way to market a Win8 tablet I would go with one of those ads that has a person kind of walk through their day. Start with the morning and them reading something on it with a cup of coffee, then plug in headphones as they get on a train, then when they get into work using some business software, finally at home watching some video. Have it say something like 'a tablet that seamlessly handles all your needs' or something like that. Of course MS will have some ad company come up with something really dumb.

  • Report this Comment On March 22, 2012, at 4:06 PM, Myclevername wrote:

    I running the Consumer Preview on an Acer W500 Iconia tablet/keyboard docking hybrid. It works. There is a learning curve but I am already a WP7 user so I am familiar with the Metro design. I think the best way to use any touch table is with the option of a keyboard dock. If you want a typical netbook then dock in your tablet for easy and speedy typing. if you just want the touch/tablet experience, rip your screen off the keyboard dock and you are pure touch tablet.

    As I use it and learn more tips and tricks in Windows 8, I predict Microsoft's tablet share will surpass Android by January and will start to take market share from the iPad in large numbers by June of next year. I would suggest anyone interested buy a hybrid docking tablet and see the full potential of Windows 8.

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