Microsoft opened dozens of temporary stores to showcase its new Windows 8 and Surface tablets. Take a look at our opening day tour.
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The extent to which Windows 8 will catch on has been hotly contested.
Vendors have been showing off new form factors for months, often with the help of Intel, whose Ultrabook fortunes are largely tied to Microsoft's new offering. Central to many of the manufacturer's pitches has been how the touch-friendly OS will transform the computing experience.
At the same time, many analyst firms -- notably Gartner -- have been bearish. Consumer popularity will be tough, especially given Apple's stranglehold over the tablet category. Apple's slowing iPad sales might be a sign that buyers are ready for something new -- but they might also simply indicate that many would-be purchases were delayed due to escalating iPad Mini rumors. On the enterprise side, meanwhile, many businesses are still amortizing their Windows 7 investments, making a quick leap to the newest release unlikely. This challenge is exacerbated by the fact that many businesses wait several years, for reasons related to stability and security, before deploying a new OS.
All of this might be a moot point, however, if consumers fall in love with Surface, or, for that matter, any of the new Windows 8 devices. The consumerization of IT means that, to a large extent, non-IT staff can now call the shots. The iPad, for example, was hardly built with enterprises in mind -- but because of its popularity, the device became a primary catalyst behind the BYOD phenomenon.
Surface's ability to crack the enterprise space has been particularly debated; with its consumption-oriented UI and its inability to run x86 apps, the device has been seen as a tool with limited business use. However, outside of Microsoft Office, fewer and fewer employees rely on legacy apps. Some employees have needs for which Windows RT will be insufficient, to be sure, but because the mobile OS supports Office, its chances of entering the BYOD fray are not as far fetched as some have said.