It appears that each major software/tech company has one thing that they are famous for, thus they make a lot of these. For Microsoft, this has become their Windows program, after seven editions they have come out with the aptly titled Windows 8. But just how different is this version from its direct predecessor, Windows 7? And what could this move mean for Microsoft in the future?

For the Windows 7, according to Dan Grabham from the techradar website, it “was a big hit for Microsoft, turning things around from the troublesome Windows Vista and reminding people that the Redmond giant was not quite ready to hang up its hat just yet.” Something else that they need to do is “show that Windows can work on iPad-like tablets. But it still needs to dominate on laptops and desktops.” How does Microsoft plan to do this? There are a handful of differences between this and Windows 7.

First, like Windows 7 this one supports touch, but does so much better, so much so that “you can even close windows and select menu items without issue (the start screen itself is actually built for touch).” He has also written that this works even on non-touch machines. Second, the start screen now has, “the same kind of live tiles and data as Windows Phone’s home screen.” And, this “can be used as an application launcher for desktop apps, or Windows 8 Modern UI apps.” Third, is the multiple monitor support. Dan Grabham writes that it is now possible to “have the start screen on one monitor and the desktop in another, or choose to have the Windows 8 Desktop and taskbar on both screens. Also, “Windows 8 also enables you to split screen between Modern UI Windows 8 apps.” There are also new things from Windows 8.

Windows 8 offers some Charms as well. Some of the specific ones are Search, Share, Devices and Settings, and “as well as searching your apps and folders, charms work across different apps, so for example a social app can tap into the Share charm so you can share files to that app quickly and easily.” And, in addition to using the Search Charm, you can also search with the start screen, “just start typing and the results on screen are for programs and files.” The search charm is another example of one that works with different apps. And you can also use the People app to browse social updates instantly. For the first time, Windows will support devices running on ARM architecture, a chip design from a British company being used on more and more devices. This version of Windows 8 will be referred to as Windows RT, which can only be bought with a device. What could all this mean for Microsoft?

First, Microsoft has plans to introduced a branded computer of its own, a tablet called the Surface to compete with the iPad. However this could alienate “Microsoft’s long-time hardware partners, such as Dell Inc, Toshiba Corp and Hewlett-Packard Co.” Second, “if Windows 8 is not eventually a hit with enterprises, it will threaten the company’s most stable customer base. And industry experts do not expect businesses and other big organizations to rush to adopt Windows 8 immediately, except perhaps to incorporate new tablets for mobile workers.” Lastly, Windows has been accounting for a smaller proportion of Microsoft’s annual revenue, (30 percent five years ago, 25 percent last year). The late Steve Jobs has said we are in a post- PC era, are we really?