Microsoft has let some intriguing news slip out the past few weeks. Although Windows 7 made a decent splash at its release in 2009, it was quickly overshadowed by the iPad and other tablets redefining what a computer really is. Microsoft has been playing catch-up ever since, and signs indicate that this fall might be its redemption. Will it be enough to reinvigorate the company and cast off the impression that it’s just coasting on inertia? Let’s take a look at the stories.
• Windows 8 Release Preview: Back on March 8, I covered the Consumer Preview of the next version of Windows. The Release Preview, now available for download at Preview.Windows.com, is essentially a more polished beta, but it’s still not ready to be sold. Microsoft still “strongly” recommends that “only experienced PC users” install it; what they really mean is “people comfortable with erasing a whole PC, probably more than once.”
• Windows 8 upgrade pricing: For anyone who purchases a Windows 7 machine now, it would be very frustrating to see brand new Windows 8 machines come out in just a few months. That’s why Microsoft is giving buyers a chance to upgrade for $14.99 rather than the full retail price. In the past, these upgrades for late adopters who buy just before a new version comes out have been free, so one could look a gift horse in the mouth and complain that the price has gone up, but Microsoft doesn’t really have to offer the upgrade at all. So really, be grateful.
The upgrade offer is good between June 2, 2012, and Jan. 31, 2013. For all the details, see WindwosUpgradeOffer.com.
• Windows 8 tablets: TechRadar is now reporting that Windows 8 tablets with Intel processors will start shipping in November; that’s in line with the estimated release date of “fall” for Windows 8 in general. Lenovo, Dell, HP and Asus will be among the first manufacturers putting out hardware. They’ll be more robust (and expensive) than most Android tablets, with ports that normally show up on PCs. Some of them will be laptops that convert into tablets.
There will likely be a few tablets with ARM processors before November, running a streamlined version of the operating system called Windows RT. Unlike 8, RT won’t run legacy Windows programs, but will come with its own version of Office that includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. With luck, these less-capable tablets will be cheaper than full Windows 8 tablets and more in line with Android and iPad functionality.
• Office for iPad: One of the most common complaints about tablets is that there’s no complete office suite for them. There are viewers, there are free suites that mostly pretty much almost support everything in Word and Excel files, there are paid suites that do a little more, but really what everyone wants is good old Microsoft Office on their iPad. It’s taken until now for the rumors to get firmed up: it’s coming out Nov. 10. Probably. That’s the date reported by The Daily, the iPad-only magazine. Apparently programming is done, but testing and submission to the Apple store will take a few more months.
As for an Android version? Definitely maybe.
Rumor is, it’s entertaining to follow @CitizenjaQ on Twitter.