By Jonathan Charles | Oct 18, 2012 10:13 AM EDT
Microsoft lifted the veil on pre-orders for Surface, its laptop-tablet hybrid device running Windows 8 priced from $499. Windows 8 needs apps, though, and quickly.
While cheaper than the equivalent third-generation iPad, Window 8 has an element of uncertainty as a new release. Consumers purchase iPads and have an established App Store to browse. Granted consumers bought into the first-generation iPad and tolerated a fledgling app store, but Apple got into the market and attracted a sizable amount of buyers first. With its Nexus 7, Google battled difficulties in attracting consumers to a non-iPad tablet.
However, Windows 8 is the biggest desktop operating system worldwide and, therefore, developers with apps will probably arrive. How quickly will developers arrive is the question; especially with Microsoft pushing towards 3,000 apps before the launch in nine days worldwide. The company wants 100,000 by early 2013. The latter would provide the platform Microsoft needs if the app quality is good. iOS offers almost unanimous high-quality design, and seems to be the culture for developers. Microsoft posted blog posts comparing the two systems' apps, and the ease of bringing apps from iOS to Windows 8.
Microsoft is building an integrated ecosystem. From Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 using Modern UI, to Xbox Music working across the platforms, the user experience is more consistent than previous Microsoft products. Android struggles to work on tablets because of the range of hardware and lack of quality tablet apps. Apple built a smartphone and tablet using the same user interface. Microsoft is following suit, however, controversially.
Microsoft, meanwhile, is in the middle of the two approaches. While the company is shipping its own hardware, third-party manufacturers will build devices from PCs to tablets. Like Windows Phone, setting consistent hardware requirements would help regulate testing apps. Developers need to know that apps work across multiple specifications. The process for Windows 8, however, is more open due to the flexible nature of building a desktop PC or laptop, rather than a smartphone or tablet.
Windows 8 launches Oct. 26 worldwide. Microsoft is holding a "celebration" event for the operating system, with the company's Surface device launching at midnight.
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