Ahmed Elbatrawy

Microsoft takes on Apple, Google with Windows 8


A screen shot of Microsoft's

Barcelona, Spain (CNN) — Microsoft unveiled Windows 8 for public testing on Wednesday in the hope that it will help the brand win back some of the ground it has been losing to Apple and Google.

The new operating system works on tablets as well as PCs and laptops, connecting them via the cloud to give users a more consistent experience as they switch between devices.

“It’s beautiful, modern, fast and fluid — it’s a generational change in the Windows operating system,” Microsoft Windows President Steven Sinofsky said as he launched the consumer preview of the new operating system at Mobile World Congress, in Barcelona, Spain.

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Windows 8 scales across devices and screen sizes, Sinofsky said. “There’s too many hard stops between phones and tablets and desktops. We want to make things more harmonious,” he said.

The new operating system uses the “Metro” style of software currently being used on phones running the Windows 7 operating system, using tiles on the start-up screen.

The FC PowerTrekk charger converts water into electricity to power a mobile. The FC PowerTrekk charger converts water into electricity to power a mobile.

A wireless in-car phone charger created by Duracell and Powermatt .A wireless in-car phone charger created by Duracell and Powermatt .

A man displays a Sony SmartWatch conected to a Sony mobile phone during a presentation at the Mobile World Congress on February 28A man displays a Sony SmartWatch conected to a Sony mobile phone during a presentation at the Mobile World Congress on February 28

The Asus padfone, part phone, part tablet, part laptop, this is the Russian doll of the mobile world.The Asus padfone, part phone, part tablet, part laptop, this is the Russian doll of the mobile world.

Fujitsu's speedy quad-core smartphone prototype has a 13.1-megapixel camera on board and is waterproof.Fujitsu’s speedy quad-core smartphone prototype has a 13.1-megapixel camera on board and is waterproof.

Huawei's MediaPad 10 FHD is a 10-inch tablet boasting super-fast processing speeds.Huawei’s MediaPad 10 FHD is a 10-inch tablet boasting super-fast processing speeds.

Samsung smartphones will soon be able to connect with Toyota's In-Vehicle Infotainment (IVI) systemSamsung smartphones will soon be able to connect with Toyota’s In-Vehicle Infotainment (IVI) system

The stylus is back! The Samsung Galaxy Note device has reintroduced the tool for more accurate touch screen control.The stylus is back! The Samsung Galaxy Note device has reintroduced the tool for more accurate touch screen control.

Samsung's Galaxy Beam features a built-in image projectorSamsung’s Galaxy Beam features a built-in image projector

The fastest phone yet? BlackBerry showed off a device that pairs with a Porsche 911The fastest phone yet? BlackBerry showed off a device that pairs with a Porsche 911

Nokia raised eyebrows with its new PureView smartphone, boasting a 41 Megapixel camera.Nokia raised eyebrows with its new PureView smartphone, boasting a 41 Megapixel camera.

Motorola shows off its combined GPS tracking device and MP3 player, which also acts as a workout coach and tracks a user's performance.Motorola shows off its combined GPS tracking device and MP3 player, which also acts as a workout coach and tracks a user’s performance.

People wander through the Android display area. With no official Apple presence at the Mobile World Congress, Android phones dominate.People wander through the Android display area. With no official Apple presence at the Mobile World Congress, Android phones dominate.

Demonstrators dressed in curious bobble hats staff a Nokia stand at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.Demonstrators dressed in curious bobble hats staff a Nokia stand at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Duracell showcases its Powermat WiCC which can be used to wirelessly charge specially-adapted electronic devices.Duracell showcases its Powermat WiCC which can be used to wirelessly charge specially-adapted electronic devices.

The robot symbol of the Android operating system guards a display at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.The robot symbol of the Android operating system guards a display at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

A hostess holds a LG Optimus Vu, which boasts one of the biggest screens seen on a smartphone.A hostess holds a LG Optimus Vu, which boasts one of the biggest screens seen on a smartphone.

Taiwanese phone giant HTC launched its new One range, featuring toughened Gorilla glass screens. Taiwanese phone giant HTC launched its new One range, featuring toughened Gorilla glass screens.

Ford's launched its technology-stuffed B-Max car at the Mobile World Congress to tout its hi-tech credentials.Ford’s launched its technology-stuffed B-Max car at the Mobile World Congress to tout its hi-tech credentials.

Nokia's Lumia 900 mobile phone Nokia’s Lumia 900 mobile phone


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Mobile World CongressMobile World Congress


41 megapixel camera on new Nokia phone


BlackBerry in your car and in your hands

A new Windows Store, which will be the marketplace for all apps for Windows 8, also launched on Wednesday. Apps will be free to download for the duration of the consumer preview.

James Governor, a London-based tech-industry analyst, said Windows 8 was unlikely to galvanize Microsoft’s market profile but its entry into tablet technology laid crucial groundwork for sustained relevance.

He said the popularity of Windows 7 meant that, as was seen with Microsoft’s earlier XP operating system, there wouldn’t be intense clamoring for an immediate update.

“I don’t think it’s an explosive ‘Christ, we’ve got to have this new release,’ “he said. “There isn’t necessarily a pent-up demand for what Windows 8 represents.”

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Governor said the move into the tablet market represented by Windows 8 marked a key step for Microsoft as it repositioned itself against Apple and Android-powered machines.

“Microsoft needs to be in the tablet game. It couldn’t sit out two or three rounds of tablets without trying to have a more effective play and clearly Windows 8 is a big part of that,” he said.

In terms of functionality, Governor said Windows 8 suffered from a “weird two-personality thing” as it switched between its user-friendly new Metro interface into functional areas of computing.

“A lot of people aren’t going to be comfortable with that: here is this new Metro personality and then, oh by the way, now I really want some really hardcore web development. I found it OK, but I don’t know how it will work with others.”

Barry Neild contributed to this story from London






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Ahmed Elbatrawy