October 25, 2012, 1:30 PM — Kicking off what may be the company's most challenging marketing effort yet, Microsoft has launched its next generation operating system, Windows 8, in New York City.
"Windows 8 shatters perceptions of what a PC really is," said Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer during the launch presentation, held at Pier 57, a giant warehouse jutting out into the Hudson River. The OS is radically from previous versions of Windows 8, Ballmer said, one that addresses a growing number of computational form factors, many of which Microsoft showed at the event.
Such new devices blur the line between tablets and PCs, and offer the best of both form factors. "Are these new designs PCs? Yes. Are they tablets also? Yes. We brought together the best of both worlds. People will pick and choose what is important to them. Everybody should be able to find their own perfect PC," Ballmer said.
Ballmer also stressed how much more dynamic Windows 8 would be over competing devices. Windows 8 machines would be "alive with activity," with live tiles updating personal information on the start screen, he said. "Picture your start screen filled with everything and everybody important to you. You will always know what is going on with the people in your life," Ballmer said.
Microsoft has always marketed new versions of its flagship Windows OS with plenty of aplomb. But it is particularly important for Microsoft that this version Windows is a success. Observers have noted that, unlike any version since Windows 95, this Windows 8 has less of a predetermined course of success. Press have hailed this launch as Microsoft's potential "last stand" and maybe even the end of Microsoft's dominance on the computer platform.
Much has changed in the three short years since the last major release of Microsoft's Windows franchise, Windows 7. The market for consumer computational devices has expanded, and moved away from using exclusively Windows. And Steven Sinofsky, president of the Windows and Windows Live division, acknowledged this when announcing the official launch.
"This is a new era of Windows PCs," Sinofsky said. "Windows 8 is a major milestone in the evolution and revolution of computing."