Byte Me Article 97 – Microsoft goes for share of touchscreen users with Windows 8 – Tapping into new market

Microsoft goes for share of touchscreen users with Windows 8

– Tapping into new market

27 October, 2012

Microsoft’s latest operating system – Windows 8 was released to Australian consumers just yesterday and it’s heralding a huge change in the way we will operate mainstream computers and laptops.  Many are suggesting that this is the biggest single overhaul in the line of Microsoft operating systems since Windows 95 was released 17 years ago!  To help explain the impact this will have, we firstly need to understand what an operating system is.

An operating system is the base or essential software for a computing device to function – even in the most rudimentary sense.  Servers, computers, laptops, netbooks, tablets, iPads, iPhones and smart phones all have an operating system – this is what ‘loads up’ every time you turn the device on.  In fact even ‘dumber’ devices such as thin clients, modems, modern TV’s, cameras, DVD players, gaming consoles and ‘less smart’ phones could be said to have an operating system as well, although this is often referred to as firmware (a more basic operating system).

2012-10-27 Byte Me Article 97 - Windows 8 - News Article

This is why we are hearing lately that a device may need a ‘firmware’ upgrade – it will normally introduce a new set of features or fix a problem ‘bug’ that is discovered with the existing firmware.  In the case of a mobile phone for instance a firmware upgrade may lessen how often it drops out when on a call.   In the case of a computer the operating system is the software that ‘talks’ directly to the hardware and provides a picture on the screen, the functionality of mouse, keyboard and touchscreen inputs from the user as well as providing communication signals to printers, scanners, USB drives, business & home computer networks and even the largest computer network in the world – he Internet.

Without an operating system these devices would not function and we would not have a ‘base’ to install and run our favourite applications such as word, excel, tax packages, games, music players, email software etc.  In recent years, what has been changing most rapidly are the number of features provided to us by smart phones and tablets.  We have witnessed the introduction of touch sensitive screens that now allow us to type a short note or browse the Internet without having to afford the size/room taken up by a keyboard.  This has caught on rapidly and one company in particular – Apple, has capitalised on this market with their iPad’s and iPhone’s (both of which run an Apple operating system).

Microsoft wants ‘in’ on this market in a big way so they have invested around 1 billion man hours to develop Windows 8 and will now spend another estimated 1 billion dollars to market it.  So what is so different or ground breaking about Windows 8?  The traditional start button on the bottom left of the screen is now gone – replaced by a series of interactive ‘tiles’ taking up the majority of centre screen space.  Navigating around the operating system and opening files or applications will be able to be done using a touch screen which Windows 8 supports.  This can speed up the control of a computer compared to the use of a keyboard / mouse and provides a more natural interaction with the user.

Letter writing and data entry will still be faster with a keyboard – providing that you are a proficient typist however it will be possible using the touch screen as well.  However, the touch screen should certainly prove to be faster and more convenient for other tasks like browsing the web to find for an example a phone number or directions to an address.  We will certainly see Windows 8 powering a further proliferation of portable devices bridging the gap between a traditional laptop and a smart phone where a normal keyboard takes up too much room.

Microsoft wants you to feel ‘familiar’ with its new operating system in the hope that you will not only be using it on your desktop PC but your laptop or smart phone as well.  This is a smart move in a giant potential market – what interesting technological times we live in!  We are already stocking Windows 8 laptops and desktops which we expect to be in great demand heading up to Christmas. 

Future Byte Me topics can be emailed to [email protected] and Bruce is contactable at Kerr Solutions, 205 Musgrave Street or on 07 49 222 400.

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