For many years, Microsoft has been building its credentials in the enterprise with Windows Server, providing an alternative to costly Unix systems. It has taken over 20 years since it divorced IBM to build this reputation.
On the desktop, it has had no competition, until Apple finally got its act together with the iPad. Beyond professional graphics and multimedia workstations, so far Apple has not shown much enthusiasm for products and services for enterprise users. But its devices are being used within business, and some companies are even contemplating supporting MacOS. It is with this backdrop, that Microsoft is setting the stage for the next battle over desktop IT.
Windows 8 shows where the company is heading. It can be used as an upgrade to Windows 7 for traditional PC desktop computing. But desktop computing is not what it used to be. Recognising the threat and opportunity of IT consumerisation, Microsoft has made Windows more like Android and iOS, even though these lack the enterprise heritage the company has worked hard to earn.
This new operating system shows where Microsoft is heading with Windows: it will be increasingly consumer-focussed. Windows 8 does work with a mouse and keyboard, but it is certainly not the same user experience as Windows 7. The move from Windows XP to Windows 7 was a comparatively small step; the move to Windows 8 will be a giant leap.