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Can Windows 8 help Microsoft gain ground on Apple and Google?

The eyes of the tech world are turning to Microsoft as it gets ready to launch Windows 8 along with its Surface tablet this week.

The new OS is being hailed as a milestone for the company, as the software departs from its usual focus on the traditional PC and mouse format, and moves fully into the mobile realm.

Several companies have placed their faith in the OS, with firms such as Nokia, Lenovo and HTC unveiling devices that will utilise Windows 8, as opposed to the dominant Android OS.  Here’s what we know so far.

Windows 8 a match for Android and iOS?

Windows 8 is Microsoft’s attempt to claw back some of the smartphone and tablet market share from leading players such as Google and Apple, who currently capture 68% and 16.9% of the market respectively.

“For Microsoft this is a very, very important launch,” said Annette Jump, a research director at analysts Gartner.

“It is a major software shift which Microsoft is hoping will help it expand beyond the PC. It will either enable them to expand to tablets and smartphones, but if it doesn’t, then it will be a setback.”

Despite the fact that Windows 8 has received some positive feedback from early users, some analysts have said that Microsoft will always struggle to look as ‘cool’ as Apple or Google.

Andrew Johnson, a senior analyst and managing vice-president at Gartner, has said that the OS launch is absolutely critical for Microsoft.

“Will Microsoft be defending themselves on shortcomings or will they be riding the tide? There’s so much more at stake here and not really a plan B,”

Windows 8: Set for success?

There’s no doubting that Windows 8 is a necessary step in the right direction for Microsoft, but its success is by no means guaranteed.

Early reviews of the Surface tablet, the flagship Windows 8 device, have been less than positive, and there is a danger that the OS’s launch will be lost amongst all the talk of Apple products.

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