Mi­crosoft launches as­sault

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Front Page - Jen­nifer Dud­ley- Ni­chol­son trav­elled to San Fran­cisco as a guest of Mi­crosoft

THE writ­ing is al­ready on the wall.

In just four years, tablets will be more pop­u­lar than lap­top com­put­ers, and by 2017 they will out­sell their full- sized coun­ter­parts by more than 23 mil­lion de­vices world­wide.

Re­search also pre­dicts con­sumers will snap up more than 80 mil­lion tablet com­put­ers this year alone.

So it’s lit­tle won­der that Mi­crosoft is eye­ing off the tablet as the com­puter of the near fu­ture.

The com­pany has, per­haps, left its run a bit late but it’s plan­ning to launch its own tablet tech­nol­ogy in a big way this year – not just with hard­ware but soft­ware too.

Its new oper­at­ing sys­tem, Win­dows 8, is de­signed to look the same on a tablet as on a desk­top com­puter and, at its Of­fice 2013 Con­sumer Pre­view launch last week, the com­pany is­sued tablets, not lap­tops, to an­a­lysts to test the pro­grams.

Mi­crosoft chief ex­ec­u­tive Steve Ballmer says the soft­ware gi­ant has to make its prod­ucts tablet- friendly.

‘‘ The in­dus­try con­tin­ues to move and change and ad­vance dra­mat­i­cally, and cer­tainly our pace of in­no­va­tion and new pro­duc­tion in­tro­duc­tion has been at an un­prece­dented rate,’’ Ballmer says, cit­ing the com­pany’s up­com­ing tablet com­puter, Sur­face, as an ex­am­ple. But Tel­syte an­a­lyst Rod­ney Gedda says it’s a move that’s been a while com­ing for Mi­crosoft and one the com­pany could not af­ford to ig­nore, lest Ap­ple and Google run away with the mar­ket.

The new Win­dows 8 soft­ware is expected to be re­leased on com­put­ers in Oc­to­ber, with the Sur­face tablet com­puter to fol­low in Aus­tralia by next au­tumn.

It be­came clear Mi­crosoft’s new­est Of­fice suite would be part of its tablet of­fer­ing last week, with all ma­jor pro­grams from Word to Out­look and even Pow­erPoint avail­able for por­ta­ble touch­screens and tra­di­tional mon­i­tors alike.

Mi­crosoft Of­fice’s cor­po­rate vice- pres­i­dent PJ Hough says the com­pany’s new fo­cus is sim­ply about mov­ing its soft­ware to wher­ever con­sumers want to use it.

‘‘ That used to be sit­ting at your desk, but that’s not the case any more,’’ Hough says.

‘‘ We’re get­ting work done in the air­port, we’re get­ting work done in the car, we’re get­ting work done on the train and at school, we’re get­ting work done at home.’’

Gedda says it’s not sur­pris­ing Mi­crosoft has opted to make Of­fice more in­ter­net- savvy, given both the pop­u­lar­ity of tablets and the rise of Google and Drop­box.

‘‘ There’s def­i­nitely a com­pet­i­tive play here: Mi­crosoft can’t just sit back and al­low cloud ven­dors to eat its lunch, whether that’s Google or Drop­box or even Ap­ple and its iCloud.’’

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