Microsoft Corp put its Surface tablet center stage at its Windows 8 launch event, hoping the sleek new device will spark a fightback against Apple Inc and Google Inc in the exploding mobile computing market.
With interest in traditional computers waning, the world’s largest software company is attempting to reinvent the Windows PC in a new format and directly challenge Apple’s all-conquering iPad.
“One person called it historic, unique,” said Steven Sinofsky, head of Microsoft’s Windows unit and the driving force behind Windows 8, who opened the launch event in New York in front of about 1,000 media and PC industry partners.
“It’s twice the amount of storage as a competing tablet for the same price,” Sinofsky said, comparing the entry-level 32GB Surface with the cheapest 16GB model of Apple’s latest full-sized iPad, which both cost US$499.
Sinofsky and his team showed off a range of devices running Windows 8 from PC makers such as Lenovo Group Ltd (聯想) and Acer Inc (宏碁), but devoted most of their energy to the second half of the presentation and the Surface tablet, the first computer Microsoft has made itself.
Panos Panay, head of the Surface project, demonstrated the tablet’s features, beaming video and music to other screens, showing off the ultra-thin cover that doubles as a keyboard, and hooking up a camera to the device’s USB port. He even dropped the device on the floor to demonstrate its durability.
Microsoft stressed that the Surface, featuring a pre-installed version of Office, is not just for entertainment but also for work. The device has generated a lot of curiosity, but so far has not garnered rave reviews and users seem unconvinced.
Apple chief executive Tim Cook wasted no time shooting back at Microsoft’s challenge.
“I haven’t personally played with the Surface yet, but what we’re reading about it is that it’s a fairly compromised, confusing product,” Cook said on Apple’s quarterly earnings conference call with analysts. “I suppose you could design a car that flies and floats, but I don’t think it would do all of those things very well.”
Windows 7 was introduced three years ago, but Windows 8 represents the biggest change in Microsoft’s user interface since Windows 95 came out 17 years ago.
“We’ve reimagined Windows, and we’ve reimagined the whole PC industry,” Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer told Reuters Television.
The radical redesign, which dispenses with the Start button and features square tiles for apps, may surprise some users.
Sinofsky sought to quell fears by emphasizing that the new system was built on the base of Windows 7, Microsoft’s best-selling software that recently passed 670 million license sales.
Microsoft is offering several versions of the new system. The basic Windows 8, the full Windows 8 Pro and Windows 8 Enterprise for large organizations will all run on traditional PCs, laptops and new tablets using Intel Corp chips. Windows RT is a new version of Windows that will be pre-installed on its Surface tablet and other devices using low-power chips designed by ARM Holdings PLC.
Through the end of January, users running Windows XP, Windows Vista or Windows 7 can download an upgrade to Windows 8 Pro for US$40.
Gogoro Inc (睿能創意) yesterday launched its first electric bicycle, the Gogoro Eeyo 1, in Taiwan, after unveiling the bike in New York in late May and in France on Tuesday. The company said it would also introduce the series in other European countries such as Germany and the Netherlands. The “Eeyo project” is the fourth of Gogoro’s eight projects that concentrate on smart transportation, which includes Gogoro’s electric scooter, battery swap system and electric scooter sharing service, company founder and chief executive officer Horace Luke (陸學森) told a media briefing in Taipei. “There are various types of city commuters. We will not
EXPERIMENTAL DRUG: While news about a COVID-19 vaccine is more eye-catching, developing a treatment would be more viable, the Senhwa boss said Senhwa Biosciences Inc (生華科) aims to raise NT$1.5 billion (US$50.57 million) by issuing 15 million new common shares in the third quarter of this year to fund the research of new drugs, including the experimental drug Silmitasertib for the treatment of COVID-19, the company said on Monday. That would be the firm’s largest fundraising effort after it raised more than NT$1.4 billion from an initial public offering on the Taipei Exchange (TPEX) in April 2017, chief financial officer Sarah Chang (張小萍) told the Taipei Times by telephone. The price of the new shares would depend on the firm’s average share price
NOT A PANACEA: Offering 5G services would not solve the problem of declining telecom incomes, chairman Sheih Chi-mau said, expecting a flat 5G telecom revenue Chunghwa Telecom Co (中華電信) yesterday became the nation’s first telecom to debut its 5G services, offering tiered tariffs that include a threshold of NT$599 and flat rates, as it aims to switch half of its subscribers to the 5G network within three years. Subscribers would have unlimited data transmission for monthly fees starting at NT$1,399 — the same flat rate as when the company launched its 4G service in 2014 — and they can subscribe to the highest-rate plan for NT$2,699 per month for faster data transmission speeds and larger bandwidth, the company said. Data transmission speeds would be within the range
STAYING AHEAD: TSMC expects its sales this year to grow 14 to 19 percent and could spend up to US$3.52 billion on research and development, leaving its rivals far behind Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) reported that the US last year approved 99 percent of its patent applications, which placed the tech giant among the top patent holders in the US. In its Corporate Social Responsibility Report, TSMC said it last year secured about 3,600 patents worldwide, including more than 2,300 in the US. As of the end of last year, TSMC owned more than 39,000 patents, the report said. The company last year filed almost 6,500 patent applications worldwide and ranked among the top 10 patent applicants in the US. In Taiwan, it was the largest patent applicant for the fourth