Second wave of Windows 8 client promotions coming soon

'Windows 8 hardware gets remarkably better,' exec says

BARCELONA -- Microsoft is about to embark on a second wave of Windows 8 client hardware promotions and user education, an executive said Wednesday.

"Starting soon, you'll see us do a lot more education of the business user and consumers," said Christopher Flores, director of communications for the Windows client division, in an interview at the Mobile World Congress.

Flores described the past four months, since the Windows 8 launch event in October, as a period for building "product awareness" that includes TV ads for Windows RT tablets. Those ads featured dancers clicking open and closed the Touch Cover with Windows RT tablets in time with music.

He said he wasn't at liberty to offer any specifics on the coming campaign, but reiterated and clarified some of the same themes mentioned at launch time about the value of Windows 8. Those ideas include how Windows Pro tablets and other Windows 8 tablets and convertible laptops and all-in-one computers built by other manufacturers that run on Intel x86 chips can be used with a rich array of Microsoft legacy apps like Excel that are used widely in business settings.

Flores also promised that various Windows 8 client makers will add hardware improvements throughout 2013, launching them for back-to-school and fall sales. "The future of Windows 8 hardware gets remarkably better very soon, this year," he said.

He also said developer interest in the Windows 8 platform is growing, noting that there are four times as many apps available for Windows tablets than there were in November. He would give a specific number, saying it varies by country. (In the U.S. for Windows Store, there are about 50,000 apps, and various reports have indicated the addition of new apps slowed dramatically after the holidays. )

About 500,000 developers have signed up for Windows 8 developer training classes that can run for a half day or longer.

"Developers want to make money and know Windows is going to be big," Flores said. "We rarely make things small. We offer a combination of reach and opportunity to developers."

Microsoft's TV commercial promoting the Surface tablet.

Microsoft offers developers a better revenue-sharing opportunity with Windows 8 than either iOS or Android, he said. All three platforms share app revenues at a 70/30 rate when an app is first launched, with the developer receiving 70% of the revenue. With Windows 8, once an app has sales of $25,000, the developer's share improves to 80/20. For purchases users make within an app, such as moving to the next level of a game or buying a subscription to a magazine, Flores said Microsoft "gives developers more flexibility" than the others, allowing the 80/20 increase to after in-app sales go over $25,000.

"Developers are excited about the financial opportunity," he said.

Demonstrating on about 20 different tablets, laptops and all-in-one devices, Flores showed how the same Windows 8 software can run on all size screens and form factors. Only slight adjustments are needed to the app's code to accommodate Windows Phone 8 smartphones, since it shares the same kernel as Windows 8, he said.

"A single app store powers everything you see in this room, either ARM-based or Intel-based, whether really small or with a mouse and keyboard or just touch," he said. By contrast, in very few cases do "two Android devices have the exact same Android on them, and the downside effect is that your Android app on your Android machine might not run on mine ... We promise developers that so long as they follow the rules, Windows will do all the work to perform beautifully regardless of the type of screen you have."

Flores said the arrival of Windows 8 with touch capability and support for ARM chips represents the biggest Windows upgrade, even bigger than when Windows 95 was introduced after Windows 3.1. Recently, the company reported it sold 60 million Windows 8 licenses, which includes Windows 8 upgrades from Windows 7. "Obviously, Windows 8 is a big, enormous, change for us ... 2013 will be even more exceptional," Flores said.

There are already 1,800 different models of Windows 8 clients on the market from various manufacturers, up from 1,000 at the October launch.

Flores also reported that empirical data that Microsoft collects anonymously through remote telemetry about how users operate their Windows 8 touch-capable machines shows that users are using both the touchscreens and the keyboards, either attached in laptops or attachable keyboards.

"We know that in looking at our data, that people are using all modes," he said. "When you scroll up quickly, people use touch and mouse interchangeably."

Some early reviewers of Windows RT had said the Touch Cover confused them as to whether to use the tablet without the keyboard or with the keyboard. "Touch is contagious," he said.

See more Mobile World Congress coverage from our team in Barcelona.

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