That sounds great, except we don't know exactly how content selection will work for third-party apps, such as Netflix. We're also uncertain about how many apps will offer second-screen content for SmartGlass. To date, Microsoft has demonstrated HBO GO and shown concepts of what Halo 4 on Smartglass might look like, but the company has released little hard information.
Will other Microsoft apps, such as Paint and Movie Maker, go modern?
Microsoft will preload Windows 8 with several of its own tablet-optimized apps, such as Bing, Sports, Finance, and Weather. Even Solitaire received a makeover for the new touch interface in Windows 8.
Still, some apps, including Paint and Movie Maker, haven't crossed over from the desktop. This is somewhat surprising, considering that Apple's content-creation apps, such as iPhoto and iMovie, have become big selling points for the iPad.
Will Microsoft port its own apps, or will it rely on third parties to fill in the gaps? That's a critical question, considering that the Windows Store, Microsoft's app portal, is woefully understocked. If Microsoft really wants consumers to take its app ecosystem seriously, it should ensure that all of its key, legacy desktop software products come in modern-style touch versions too.
What's the future for version upgrades?
By fusing tablet and desktop into a single operating system, Microsoft has created a dilemma for future upgrades: Will they be free, as they are on iOS and Android, or paid, as they have been with past versions of Windows and with Apple's OS X? And for that matter, how often will Microsoft deliver upgrades with new features, rather than simple bug fixes?
The pace of software innovation has sped up in recent years, so Microsoft's tradition of issuing three-year upgrades for Windows may no longer suffice. Is this the last of the showstopping updates for Windows, as Microsoft moves toward yearly iterations? The answer has important ramifications for anyone considering the upgrade-or-wait question with respect to Windows 8.
What will Windows 8 cost in six months?
Until January 31, upgrades to Windows 8 Professional will cost $40 for users of Windows XP, Windows Vista, or Windows 7. After that, Microsoft hasn't said what the price of Windows 8 upgrades will be. Will users have to pay for a full retail copy, rumored to cost $100 and up, or will a cheaper upgrade option remain available?
How much will Surface cost? And what are its display resolution and battery life?