Windows is a longtime source of financial fuel for Microsoft’s business, and by extension for the Seattle region’s economy — used by hundreds of millions of people around the world and producing billions in profits every year. But the world is rapidly changing, and Microsoft is radically transforming its flagship product in an effort to keep up in the era of mobile devices and the web.
It’s a huge but necessary gamble for Microsoft, and the person leading the charge is Steven Sinofsky, the Windows president, who unveiled the company’s plans for Windows 8 in September. The role has landed Sinofsky a spot on GeekWire’s list of Newsmakers of the Year for 2011.
“From the chipset to the experience, Windows 8 re-imagines what Windows can be,” said Sinofsky as he introduced the new version at the company’s Build conference in Anaheim.
The new Windows, expected out sometime next year, is Microsoft’s response to Apple’s iPad, using a tile-based Start screen that echoes the visual stylings of Microsoft’s Windows Phone and Xbox 360 interface. But beyond trying to rival the iPad on tablets, Windows 8 is complete overhaul of the desktop computing experience, which makes it even more of a gamble for the company.
In aiming to make the new interface the default on computers, Microsoft is hoping that people around the world will embrace it as a standard on all sorts of devices and screens. Whether that will happen remains to be seen, but Sinofsky and his team are the ones trying to make it so.