Solution providers are offering praise for the technical advances Microsoft has made to the nascent Windows 8, especially the synergy between the desktop operating system and Microsoft's Windows Phone OS.
But opinions vary on how much demand there will be for Windows 8 with the current (and successful) Windows 7 release having debuted in July 2009. Windows 8 is expected to be generally available sometime in 2012.
"The exciting thing about this is that Microsoft is looking to make their OS homogenous across all devices," said Ralph Serzo, vice president of client technology at Primary Support Solutions, a New York-based solution provider and Microsoft partner. "This has a lot of potential for mobile/remote users, as well as standard desktop users, allowing them to maintain symmetry across the multitude of devices that are flooding the market -- tablets, phones, desktops, etc."
Earlier this month Microsoft offered the first significant look at Windows 8, with demonstrations of an early version of the software at the All Things D "D9" conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., and the Computex show in Taipei, Taiwan.
Microsoft is developing versions of Windows 8 that will run on tablets and other mobile devices, finally putting Microsoft in competition with Apple's iPad and a raft of Android-based devices.
While there is much anticipation over the versions of Windows 8 Microsoft is developing to run on tablet computers, some partners are skeptical about Microsoft's chances of success against Apple's popular iPad and Android-based devices.
"I do believe Microsoft missed the boat here," said Andrew Kretzer, sales and marketing director at Bold Data Technology, a Fremont, Calif.-based solution provider. "I think you will always have those partners and customers who will wait for Redmond's answer to a particular technical question. However, Android and [Apple's] iOS are already part of the corporate IT architecture -- smart phones are an entrenched reality in all levels of business and that is only going to intensify.
"I believe that the movement to tablets in corporate America is going to be viewed as a logical, vertical move up from the smart phone, as opposed to a move down from the Microsoft desktop, although the end result may indeed be the same," he said.
Observers noted that the Windows 8 user interface is similar to the Windows Phone 7 interface, right down to its multi-touch capability and use of "tiles" to launch applications.
"That was the first thing that struck me," said Dave Sobel, CEO of Fairfield, Va.-based Evolve Technologies, referring to the Windows 8 user interface. "It's the Windows Phone UI integrated with [desktop] Windows."
Next: Is Microsoft Too Late To Crack The Tablet Market?