The launch of Windows 8 is a more significant event than the release of Windows 7, both for Microsoft and for the industry as a whole. It represents an extension of the PC industry's applications and ecosystem and an attempt to secure core value in the mobile computing market. Analysis by Digitimes Research shows that Windows 8 is not simply a necessary pushback by Microsoft against the challenge of the Android and iOS platforms; even more importantly, it marks the opening salvo in the battle for users between PCs and mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.
Digitimes Research projects Windows Phone 8 (WP8) smartphones launched between the second half of 2012 and early 2013 will focus on the high-end market, with WP7 models targeted at the lower end of the market; a simplified version of WP7 is also likely to ship on handsets with an unsubsidized price of less than US$100.
Windows 8 will have two major impacts on the PC and tablet markets. Firstly, it will stimulate growth in touchscreen devices. Projective capacitive touch panels are likely to become the mainstream touch technology on the basis of current trends, and their use with spread from mobile devices into PC products. However, as Windows 8 systems are not likely to be launched until the end of 2012, the penetration rate of projective capacitive panels in PC products for the whole of 2012 will be only around 1%.
Second, Windows 8 will expedite the uptake of ultra-thin systems like ultrabooks and tablets, and will therefore increase the penetration rate of SSDs in Windows systems. SSD-equipped notebooks have already seen major breakthroughs in sales during 2012, with whole-year shipments surpassing 10 million units. Windows 8 tablets that use Intel CPUs will also use SSDs as their main storage devices, and are projected to ship around one million units in 2012.