"When the PC dominated personal computing by providing a single device for messaging, internet access, gaming and productivity, Windows was a powerhouse for Microsoft," said Michael Silver, vice president and analyst at Gartner. "However, smartphones and tablets, led by the iPhone and iPad, have changed the way people work, making the PC just one of several devices people use. The PC is increasingly simply a peer with other devices."
With Windows 8, Microsoft is trying to address the excitement of the tablet market by adding tablet interface to Windows.
"Microsoft's approach is very different from Apple's and Google's, where phones and tablets have much more commonality than PCs and tablets," Silver said. "This plays to Microsoft's strength in PCs, leveraging it not only to enter the tablet market, but also to improve its share of the smartphone market."
"Windows 8 is not your normal low or even high impact major release of the OS," said Steve Kleynhans, research vice president at Gartner. "It's the start of a new era for Microsoft — the RT era — which follows the NT era, which began in 1993 and is just now starting to fade out. Microsoft eras seem to run about 20 years, so the technology underlying Windows 8 will last a long, long time."
Making radical changes to Windows poses a risk for Microsoft as organizations like to reduce technology risk by deploying mature, stable, well-supported products. Windows Vista, for example, never gained significant success in corporate environments, and its lack of success —Gartner estimates that just 8 per cent of PCs run by Gartner clients ran Vista at its peak — has reduced its useful life as third parties have already started cutting support for it. The bottom line is that IT leaders are questioning whether Windows 8 will suffer a similar fate.