Windows 8: Microsoft’s Big Bet

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Pre-orders have opened up for Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows 8. The operating system is slated for release on October 26, alongside the company’s new tablet, the Surface. Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) and the rest of the personal computing industry are hoping that the platform will turn around — or at least put the brakes on — declining sales numbers.

And the industry might get what it’s asking for. According to Forbes, Microsoft is throwing a marketing campaign behind the launch that is estimated at between $1.5 and $1.8 billion. This massive push could be Microsoft’s best bid to define itself heading into a changing technological landscape. Windows 8 represents a fundamentally new face, pulling away from the personal computer and into mobile and the cloud.

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While Windows is still a titan in the personal computer market, it has struggled with mobile. Its partnership with Nokia (NYSE:NOK) on the new Lumia phones has attracted skepticism. Many wonder whether customers will care about adopting a third platform unless there is a critical mass of users already. This is where Windows 8 could make history as a bridge between personal and mobile computing. Windows 8 is designed to bring Microsoft up to competitive speed with Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), which dominate the mobile platform market, while maintaining its foothold in personal computing.

Newegg.com prices put the enterprise upgrade at $70, the OEM version at $100, and a stand-alone copy at $140.

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