Friday, June 3, 2011

What analysts think of Microsoft's Windows 8 overhaul

Reaction from analysts to Microsoft's major redesign of Windows 8 is generally positive, based on interviews we had with some on Thursday.

The company will make the most significant overhaul to its flagship operating system since Windows 95, Microsoft said Wednesday. The new OS, code-named Windows 8, will be designed to run on tablets, as well as laptops and desktops. The home screen will have large tiles optimized for touchscreens, similar to the Windows Phone screen, instead of the traditional icons.

Software built to run on Windows 7, the current release, will work on Windows 8, and users will have the option of choosing to switching to the Windows 7 layout, Microsoft said.

"Seems like a good release," said Sid Parakh, analyst at McAdams Wright Ragen in Seattle. "It is pretty radical." He likes the emphasis on touch, but he wants to know more about how it will work with a mouse and keyboard.

He said Windows 8 could have a positive impact on Windows Phone sales because of the similar design. "That should be a good thing for the Windows Phone 7 as well because it will build on the same UI [user interface] experience. It?s good to have similar looking interfaces for those two products. It means you will have same experience on your phone as well as tablet and desktop," Parakh said.

Yun Kim, analyst at Gleacher & Co. in New York, said making Windows competitive for tablet devices will be good for the stock. "My main thesis on the stock is the release of ARM-based Windows tablet will provide the next catalyst for the stock. That?s the only reason I have it as a 'buy' rating." In a significant change, the next version of Windows will run on chips designed by ARM, which powers tablet and other mobile devices.

Wes Miller, research vice president at Directions on Microsoft in Kirkland, said Microsoft found a way to serve both the tablet market and PC users. "Microsoft obviously had a tough decision they had to make between completely culling legacy apps and making the OS and more importantly an SDK [software development kit] that was really focused on touch-based applications," he said. "They?ve done a pretty good run right down the middle where they?re going to meet the needs of both customers."

Liz Phair Aaliyah Katherine Heigl Lorri Bagley Leslie Bega

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