Microsoft has launched the latest version of its flagship operating system, Windows 8, with much fanfare around the world.
Windows 8 comes with an overhauled interface, performance improvements, faster load times, and access to the Windows Store, which allows people to download apps.
The operating system is now available for PCs and mobile devices based on the Windows platform.
Nick Dillon, senior analyst at research firm Ovum, believes that Windows Phone 8 is crucial to the success of Microsoft, as it has failed to make meaningful inroads with its redesigned mobile operating system (Windows Phone 7) since its launch two years ago. He believes that Windows Phone 8 could help cure a serious weak spot for the company.
“One of the main reasons Windows Phone has struggled is consumer acceptance: while there is very little wrong with the software, its design is significantly different from the current status quo of the ‘grid of apps’ user interface, and this change represents a perceived risk to potential customers,” wrote Dillon in a statement.
“However, in the last year Microsoft has built consumer familiarity with the new design by extending it to both its Xbox console and its PC and tablet operating system, Windows 8,” he added. “Microsoft is reportedly spending US$1 billion on marketing Windows 8, which we are expecting to have knock-on benefits, generating greater interest in Windows Phone 8.”
Microsoft has agreements in place with HTC, Nokia and Samsung, which have all come out with Windows Phone 8 devices slated for release in November in the US.
“Another area in which Windows Phone has previously struggled is in sales and marketing support from operators, which have generally been lukewarm about the operating system, preferring the easier sell of iPhones and Androids,” explains Dillon.
“However, in contrast to the launch of Windows Phone 7.5, Ovum has noted an increase in optimism and support for the platform from both vendors and mobile operators ahead of Windows Phone 8, which is generally driven by the belief that Microsoft’s proposition is now both unified and complete.
The operating system for PCs has a recommended retail price of $69.99 for Windows 8 Pro, and $39.99 for people upgrading from Windows XP, Vista or 7. People that purchased Windows 7 between 2 June 2012 and 31 January 2013 will be eligible for a discounted $14.99 upgrade.
“In terms of sales, Ovum forecasts Windows Phone to grow from 4.5% of smartphone market share in 2012 to 13 percent in 2017, putting it in third place behind iOS and Android.”