TOM HUDSON: Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) opened up its latest Windows software today at a technology conference in Barcelona, Spain. Even though it’s officially a
consumer preview of Windows 8, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) calls the new
operating system a quote, generational change for Windows.
STEVEN SINOFSKY, PRESIDENT, WINDOWS, MICROSOFT: We set out to build
Windows in a new way. We thought about engineering and design from the chip
set through the experience and we did this while still maintaining the best
of the existing PC ecosystem.
HUDSON: That computer ecosystem has changed considerably since
Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) last unveiled a new Windows software. Tablets,
smart phones, apps and cloud computing are competing with the familiar
JOE MAGYER, SR. ANALYST, MOTLEY FOOL: I think this is the biggest
launch that Microsoft’s going to have since Windows 95. I think there’s a
lot of positive buzz around it and I think this is going to be a big winner
HUDSON: With Windows 8, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) acknowledges its
operating system has to stretch across digital devices.
ROGER CHENG, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, CNET: That’s what everyone wants,
really — a sort of true integration between all of these different
devices. It doesn’t matter if you’re typing on your laptop, you’re making a
call on your phone, it’s the same operating system or a similar operating
system, running all these devices.
HUDSON: And to do that, Windows 8 sports a new look, using
customized tiles to navigate different applications. It’s similar to
Microsoft’s latest mobile phone software.
CHENG: I think the most exciting thing is it’s a completely new look
for the operating system and it feels fresh and I think it’s something
Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) badly needed. I think obviously they have that
reputation of being sort of this old slogging company — plodding company –
– that hasn’t really innovated in a while and this definitely gives
Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) a shot in the arm.
HUDSON: Financially, Windows is big for Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT). In
its last fiscal year, its Windows business brought in 45 percent of the
company’s operating income. And a new operating system helps drive sales
of Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) office software, where more than half of its
profits come from.
MAGYER: This is going to be a big launch for them. It’s going to
drive some upgrades. It’s going to create some user excitement. And it
could be the big push that Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) needs for the tablet
market. Unfortunately, it’s also going to get undercut by the launch of
iPad 3, which will get a lot of buzz and take some of their thunder away.
HUDSON: That iPad 3 launch in fact is expected next week from Apple
(NASDAQ:AAPL). In anticipation, Apple’s market value tonight now tops $500
billion. Microsoft’s is a little over half that.