Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) introduced the biggest overhaul of its flagship Windows software in two decades, reflecting the rising stakes in its competition with Apple Inc. (AAPL) and Google Inc. for the loyalty of customers who are shunning personal computers and flocking to mobile devices.
“This is the biggest product we’ve ever done,” Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer said today in an interview with Bloomberg Television, comparing it with the arrival of the PC in 1981 and the introduction of Windows 95
Windows President Steven Sinofsky said that more than 1,000 computers have been certified for Windows 8 and that there will be some Windows 8 PCs that’ll sell for less than $300.
Sinofsky also said Windows 8 will work well with Windows 7 PCs, making them boot up faster and run more efficiently.
Additionally, Microsoft today launched an online store for Windows 8 apps similar to Apple’s App Store. Sinofsky said it is launching with more apps than any competing stores when they launched.
Microsoft and Sinofsky also used Thursday to speak about Windows RT, which is a downsized version of Windows 8 that will be mostly used on tablet computers.
Windows RT uses an ARM processor, which is smaller, cheaper and uses less power than other computer chips. However, Windows RT can only run apps purchased from the Windows Store.
The first batch of Microsoft’s flagship tablet, the Surface, launches Friday and runs Windows RT. A Surface tablet running the more robust Windows 8 operating software will launch later.