* Microsoft hands out Windows 8 tablets
* New system is faster, more app-focused
* Microsoft aims at iPad's market share
By Bill Rigby
ANAHEIM, Calif., Sept 13 Microsoft Corp
(MSFT.O) handed out sleek new tablet computers with a test
version of Windows 8 at its annual developer conference, to
spark excitement over its new operating system.
The devices are the first chance for people outside
Microsoft to play with Windows 8, the temporary code name for
its next system that includes features tailored specifically
for touch screens and tablets. The company is betting the new
system will stem the tide of consumers switching to Apple Inc's
Microsoft, whose software still runs more than 90 percent
of personal computers, needs the new system to appeal to
developers in the hope they will create thousands of
applications to attract users.
At the same time, it needs to lure a younger, tech-savvy
audience and halt the march of Apple devices into Microsoft's
business market, analysts said.
"Kids today are seeing more Apple logos than Microsoft
logos, and Microsoft needs to change that if they are going to
continue being the force that they have been," said Michael
Silver, an analyst at tech research firm Gartner, attending the
"If you look at where Apple is successful, it's from
consumers who have more power to bring in what they use at home
to the business," said Silver. "That's important for Microsoft
to go after, to get this fixed."
Tablet makers are expected to start selling products with
Windows 8 in the middle of next year at the earliest.
FAST AND SLICK
The new system boots up in seconds and features a home page
filled with colorful tiles taking the user directly into
applications such as Facebook, messaging or news feeds. It is
less likely to appeal to business users, analysts said, given
that many companies are still working their way toward
switching to Windows 7, released in 2009.
Microsoft has sold almost 450 million Windows 7 licenses in
two years since it was introduced, but the newest version still
accounts for less than a third of global Windows users, many of
whom are clinging to older versions.
The new system is the first to be compatible with low-power
chips designed by ARM Holdings 8769.OS, which have become
the standard for mobile devices.
Windows unit chief Steven Sinofsky stressed the new
operating system is the first to focus on applications -- it
will contain an online app store for the first time --
reflecting the way people now use computers, tablets and
He said tablets running Windows 8 will be able to connect
easily to printers, cameras and other devices. Windows 8 will
also work on PCs with regular mouse and keyboard commands.
Sinofsky -- who called the free tablet distributed at the
conference "not an iPad" -- emphasized it was a development
machine only, and will not appear in stores. It features about
30 different apps written over the summer by Microsoft
Analysts said Microsoft wants to get Windows 8 devices in
stores for the "back to school" season next year, starting
around July, or the holiday shopping season at the latest.
Microsoft itself has not set a schedule publicly for release of
(Reporting by Bill Rigby; Editing by Derek Caney)