Microsoft starts Windows 8 era with subdued celebration
BY RYAN NAKASHIMA & PETER SVENSSON Associated Press
Friday, October 26, 2012
10/26/12 at 5:41 AM
NEW YORK - For a company that has launched products with Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney and Jay Leno - and has even paid to light up the Empire State Building in its signature colors - Microsoft's unveiling of Windows 8 on Thursday was a subdued affair.
Windows 8 is Microsoft's radical reimagining of its ubiquitous operating system. What makes it vastly different from past Windows releases is that it's designed from the ground up to work on touch-enabled PCs and tablet computers. Microsoft is also making its own tablet computer, the Surface, marking the first time that it will manufacture a general-purpose computer. Both the Surface and Windows 8 will go on sale Friday.
For the event, Microsoft dressed up a cavernous former bus depot on a floating pier jutting from Manhattan into the Hudson River. Improvised siding shielded the roughly 500 reporters and other guests from the sight of a ruined pier to the south.
This time, with no rock stars in attendance, Microsoft executives took the stage to introduce Windows 8 desktops, laptops and tablet computers made by AsusTek Computer Inc., Dell Inc., Samsung Electronics Co. and others.
Instead of raising expectations, Microsoft Corp. did what it could to reset them.
In recent days, some reviewers have panned Microsoft's Surface tablet. Others have criticized the dearth of apps in the Windows Store, the new online store where customers can buy apps that will work on the current model of the Surface and other devices that use the streamlined version of the new operating system, called Windows RT.
"The Windows Store has more apps than any competing app store had at its opening," said Steven Sinofsky, president of Windows and Windows Live, in a thinly veiled reference to Apple Inc.'s iPad, which launched in April 2010 relying on apps that had been developed for the much smaller iPhone.
"Thousands of new developers are joining the Windows Store ecosystem," Sinofsky added. "Your PC experience only improves over time."
Microsoft's U.S. launch event followed a pre-launch event in Shanghai on Tuesday.
Launches such as Microsoft's inevitably draw comparisons with Apple's events. Microsoft's event in New York took on the look and feel of Apple's famous unveilings but lacked the element of surprise. Apple's late founder and CEO Steve Jobs used to tease audiences with "one more thing" at the end of Apple presentations. Most of what came out Thursday had already been known long ago - a consequence of Microsoft's need to work with a wide array of partners, particularly PC makers.
CEO Steve Ballmer, wrapping up an initial presentation, appeared to address concerns that the new Windows 8 interface, which emphasizes touch, has annoyed some early PC reviewers.
"Windows 8 shatters perceptions of what a PC now really is."
Original Print Headline: Microsoft's Windows 8 kickoff lacking in pomp
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer gives his presentation at the launch of Microsoft Windows 8, in New York, Thursday. Windows 8 is the most dramatic overhaul of the personal computer market's dominant operating system in 17 years. RICHARD DREW/Associated Press