Given all the publicity Apple receives, it can be easy to forget that Microsoft still controls 85 per cent of the operating system market (Apple has 10 per cent across both desktop and mobile). So a complete overhaul of Windows is going to affect the vast majority of computer users over the next few years. Probably.
You see, for the first time since the rise of personal computing in the 1980s, Microsoft’s market share is under serious threat. By 2016 tablets sales will outstrip PC sales, jumping from 118m a year to 370m a year (according to Gartner). And right now there is only one serious player in the tablet market.
So, Microsoft needs Windows 8 to convince people to buy Windows tablets instead of iPads, which is no mean feat. Google has bulldozed its way to the top of the smartphone leaderboard but has failed spectacularly to make a dent in tablets. The question is, can Microsoft succeed where Google is failing?
Windows 8 RT (the tablet version) looks like an updated version of Windows Phone 7, which is a good thing. WP7 is a slick product let down by some frustrating bugs (I used it on the Nokia Lumia for a couple of months and it came within a whisker of becoming my default phone). If Microsoft can iron these out and stick it on a decent tablet (for which, unlike Apple, it will be at the mercy of manufacturers), it will be a force to be reckoned with. Football fans say never write off the Germans – the same should go for Microsoft.