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The looming release of Microsoft Corp.'s Windows 8 operating system will have far-reaching implications for business enterprises, according to a report released last week by Stamford, Conn.-based research firm Gartner Inc.
The report, “Windows 8 Changes Windows as We Know It,” predicts the new operating system will lessen the support for legacy Windows applications over time while speeding adoption of cloud and mobile computing. Although Windows 8 will be backwards compatible with applications programmed in the Win32 application programming interface, Gartner said it expects software developers to embrace the WinRT programming model.
"Windows 8 is the start of Microsoft's effort to respond to market demands and competitors as it provides a common interface and programming API set from phones to servers,” said Michael Silver, vp and distinguished analyst at Gartner. “It is also the beginning of the end of Win32 applications on the desktop. Microsoft will continue to support Win32, but it will encourage developers to write more manageable and engaging applications using WinRT."
Accordingly, the report says that, eventually, most legacy Win32 desktop applications are likely to be run in virtualized environments or in the cloud.
"Windows 8 is more than a major upgrade to Windows—it's a technology shift,” said Steve Kleynhans, vp for client and mobile computing at Gartner. “We don't see technology shifts too often; the only other one Microsoft's client OS has gone through was the move from DOS technology to Windows NT technology, which began in 1993 and took eight years, ending with the introduction of Windows XP in 2001,"
While an official release day for Windows 8 has not been set, it is widely expected to be released this fall.