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October 26, 2012

Microsoft Surface and Windows 8 now available

The new Windows operating system and Microsoft Surface are available online and in stores today.

By Tineka Smith

Microsoft Surface starts at $499 and will be available online in the United Kingdom, Australia, China, France, Germany, United States and Canada.

Accessories are also available to purchase with the surface tablet, with different coloured touch covers available for $119.

Microsoft Surface

The surface features an integrated kickstand, full USB port, touch cover and 16:9 widescreen.

Microsoft’s new Windows 8 operating system is also available in stores today. Windows 8 is the biggest change ever made to the company’s operating system.

"We have reimagined Windows and the result is a stunning lineup of new PCs," said Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO. "Windows 8 brings together the best of the PC and the tablet. It works perfect for work and play and it is alive with your world. Every one of our customers will find a PC that they will absolutely love."

Windows 8 Launch
Steve Ballmer at Windows 8 launch

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Windows 8 has received mixed reviews from critics who say that the new operating system is too drastic from its previous versions and is confusing to use. Some experts say the radical change is risky as Microsoft could lose faithful users of its previous versions.

"Windows 8 has been designed for use on mobile phones, tablets and PC’s with the purpose of providing a common look and feel, however, has Windows taken too big a gamble on an operating system which is too radically different from previous versions?" said David Akka, UK managing director for Magic Software. "Such a move could alienate the existing generation of Microsoft devotees, especially in the enterprise where Microsoft will need to drive sales through legacy devices."

Other experts say that the release of Microsoft surface and Windows 8 was needed to keep its share of the market.

"In our view, Microsoft needs a successful tablet to prevent an erosion of market share and loss of earnings from its core Windows and Office businesses," Raimo Lenschow, software analyst at Barclays, told the BBC. "The key question on our and most investors’ minds right now is how much traction the Windows 8 system and Surface tablet can gain."

Whether the surface and Windows 8 will prove to be successful remains to be seen, but a major concern for the new operating system is migration for enterprises. A large number of business will still be running on XP and will now have under two years for support of that system. Companies will soon have to decide whether they want to move to Windows 7 or jump to Windows 8.

Windows 8

"Migrating Operating Systems is a lengthy process, for any organisation of any size, and in order to minimise disruption to the daily operations of a business, IT teams should be given as much time as possible to prepare," said Mark Sutherland, president at Kaseya. "A well-thought out and structured plan must be implemented soon if migration is to take place smoothly."

Windows 8 will be available as Windows 8 Pro and Windows 8 Enterprise, for larger organisations.

The company has said that through the end of January, consumers currently using Windows XP, Vista, or Windows 7 will be able to download an upgrade to Windows 8 Pro for $39.99.

Please follow this author on Twitter @Tineka_S or comment below.

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