Windows 8: Is Anyone Impressed With Microsoft’s Relaunch?

Microsoft aimed high for its relaunch. But bloggers’ lack of enthusiasm was palpable. By Nina Strochlic.

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It’s now or never, Microsoft.

The tech giant has been building anticipation for Windows 8 and its new tablet-centric model for months. And with slipping sales, this revamp could be the company’s make-or-break moment. On Thursday, Microsoft showcased the newest offerings, including its upcoming tablet, Surface, to the usual crowd of tech bloggers in New York City. The company has been betting big on this super-speedy updated operating system to finally be a contender against Apple’s steady expansion and a slew of new tablets that are on the market—but on release day, bloggers seemed unimpressed. Here’s what the experts are saying:

“Using Windows 8 is pleasant, especially if you don’t have to do anything in a particular hurry. It’s a totally new way of thinking about how you want to operate in a desktop OS—and maybe not entirely in the way you think. But it also seems like a rough draft of a deeply interesting idea,” writes Kyle Wagner for Gizmodo.

“We saw hardware, but no hardware surprises. We saw apps, but no new titles. We came for drama, but received something more akin to an infomercial,” laments Melissa Perenson at PC World. “So we wanted to hear a big story about apps during Microsoft’s keynote. We wanted to hear announcements about new app partnerships. Which critical, popular apps already available in other tablet ecosystems will consumers be able to download at launch? And how quickly will that selection grow?” Overall, she was unimpressed by the presentation. “Microsoft, sadly, glossed right over all of that. In fact, all we heard was a de-emphasis on the number of available apps.”

“Instead of stunning the New York City audience with new details, Microsoft used the event to simultaneously demonstrate Windows 8 and support its hardware partners’ creations,” Caitlin McGarry wrote in a separate review for PC World.

Barbara Krasnoff for Computer World had a bit more of an optimistic approach, pointing out the forward-thinking technology Windows incorporated into the new system. “Any change in the attitude of buyers will probably not happen quickly … But over the next two or three years, a lot of Windows users will be looking to upgrade their hardware. And when they do—and especially if the prices aren’t too different—they will probably be looking at devices with touch screens,” she writes. Then she touches on a truly interesting possibility—could Microsoft still find itself as a trendsetter? “The thought occurs to me: If Microsoft actually succeeds in changing users’ expectations in what they want from their hardware, will competing companies such as Apple start looking at creating laptops and other larger devices with touch screens as well? Will Microsoft finally have created an actual user trend?”

“Basically, the Windows 8 devices Intel and its partners are introducing into the market are full-powered PCs crammed into a tablet form factor. When you think about that, the possibilities are endless,” said Kevin Smith at Business Insider. “The next year or two will be crucial for PCs as the consumers vote with their wallet on which new form factor is the best.”

Wired’s Alexandra Chang live-blogged the announcements with interest, but by the end she was disappointed. “And that’s a wrap. A bunch of Microsoft employees are going on stage and taking away the devices that were on display. Wow. That’s really it. There’s no news. They just talked about what we already know about Windows 8,” she wrote. “There were no new devices. There were no new features. Ballmer and Sinofsky said the same things they’ve been saying about Windows 8 for some time. This really is just a Windows 8 celebration. Are they going to give everyone a Surface? Maybe?”