Operating system challenges Apple and Google, reports technology editor Chris Gardner.
Microsoft is locking horns with Apple with the introduction of its new Windows 8 operating system tomorrow.
In its biggest overhaul in nearly 20 years, the new version of Windows has been written to run on the traditional desktop and notebook computer as well as the emerging tablet computer.
In a move calculated to take some of the shine off the introduction of Windows 8, which will be officially launched at Microsoft New Zealand in Auckland tomorrow morning, Apple announced a smaller 7.9-inch version of its popular iPad tablet computer called the iPad mini which is 23 per cent thinner and 53 per cent lighter than the current iPad. Apple also announced a fourth generation 9.7 inch iPad. Both, available from November 2, will run the iOS 6 operating system which recently prompted an official apology from Apple after its Maps application in the updated operating system proved far inferior to the Google version Apple dumped.
Google is also expected to announce 7-inch and 10-inch tablets running a new version of its Android operating system in the next few days to go head-to-head with Apple.
Paul Spain, presenter of the New Zealand Tech Podcast and founder of Gorilla Technology, was fascinated by the timing of Apple and Google's announcements.
"It looks as though both Google and Apple are trying to take a bit of attention away from Windows 8 and even Windows Phone 8."
Samsung is expected, tonight, to detail its Windows 8 devices in Auckland as well as when its Windows Phone 8 smartphone will be available in New Zealand. Both Nokia and HTC are also looking to introduce high-end Windows Phone 8s to rival the iPhone 5.
Mr Spain said some of the Windows 8 devices could act as a desktop or notebook PC when docked at a workstation and become a tablet when they are undocked. Such devices were an improvement on the iPad because they had USB connections and memory card slots.
"It's great for people travelling and makes printing and moving files around much easier. Also most Windows 8 tablets easily connect to a monitor, keyboard and mouse to become a full-blown PC when needed.
"Windows 8 is a major improvement compared to Apple's iOS, along with the option to run Microsoft Office and also work with a mouse for apps," Mr Spain said.
Electrical retailers are heavily discounting Windows 7 PCs this week to make way for the new Windows 8 range with some stores offering discounts of up to 50 per cent.
"If you just want a Windows 8 laptop that does the same as a Windows 7 laptop there's no reason not to buy one in these sales and buy a $19.99 upgrade to Windows 8 from Microsoft as it's the same machine without Windows 8.
"A lot of people are not going to worry whether their PC can become a tablet."
Most older computers running Windows Vista or Windows 7 are capable of running Windows 8.
You can download the new operating system from Microsoft tomorrow for $49.99 or buy it on disk from retailers for $89.99.
The most secure Microsoft operating system yet.
Picture option instead of a password.
Users can touch parts of the picture in certain order to sign in.
"Start" icon in lower left of screen is gone, replaced with a "start screen".
- © Fairfax NZ News
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