We may still be at least a year away from Windows 8's big debut in 2012, but the OS arena is heating up like never before, and new competitors are stepping up to the plate.
It's no big secret that Google has been preparing a streamlined, Chrome-esque operating system to challenge Microsoft's double decade monopoly. They claim it will be faster, more powerful, and less expensive (read: free) than anything Microsoft has ever put out. Most interesting of all, it appears Google is prepared to fight a two front war: first, with its open source Chromium OS, downloadable by individuals for any use, and second, Chrome OS, to be shipped on-board select tablets and mobile devices.
Attacking the PC market is a serious undertaking, but Microsoft has been working very hard lately to become more competitive in the handheld realm. They are gaining ground on Apple and are holding back Android, so surely things are looking up for them, right?
That might have been true a few days ago, before HP announced its plans to expand usage of its lightweight operating system, webOS. In the past the company had limited the operating system's applications to its own products. Soon things may be very different, in ways that don't well suit Microsoft's interests.
In an interview with Reuters, HP CEO Leo Apotheker let slip that “it’s not correct to believe that [webOS] should only be on HP devices.” And the company seems to believe him. Rumor has it that a fresh batch of PCs will roll off the HP assembly line with the operating system dual-booting alongside Windows.
Ok, so HP has plans to start pushing its OS against those of others, namely Microsoft. So what?
For starters, webOS is widely respected for combining the three golden words of contemporary tech: cloud, social, and mobile. While Windows may have been the gold standard of the past, it hasn't made strong moves toward cloud computing (although we will see what happens when 8 actually comes out). The future of social media sits on the cloud, and many aspects of mobile usage rely on consumers' love of social media.
Keep in mind that HP isn't even the main challenger. Google owns mobile, is moving toward cloud and is getting pretty chummy with social giants like Facebook after failing to put up a challenger to face them. Apple is holding onto its piece of the pie, and tablet and netbook manufacturers are still interested in the prospects of linux-based operating systems.
So where does all this leave Microsoft and their upcoming Windows 8? Desperately trying to find its place in an evolving tech world. Things were so much more simple when they were just the great big bad guy...
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.