Microsoft Unveils Windows 8.1

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Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) recently unveiled an upgrade to its Windows operating system in the form of Windows 8.1. The new and improved version is believed to address all the complaints that users had with its earlier version, Windows 8, which aimed at bridging the gap between tablets and PCs.

This update will be available free of cost to all the current owners of Windows 8. The recent update incorporates some new finger- and gesture-friendly shortcuts for touch-based apps, while restoring some respect for the desktop mode that a billion PC users have become habituated to.

Windows 8.1 allows four apps to run simultaneously, a unique multi-tasking feature users have never been exposed to before. The new update will also enable better browsing as users can now open any number of tabs they want to. Users do need to login to take Skype calls or click photos given the lock screen access feature.

The update has been released at a time when there is a slump in the demand for traditional desktops and laptops owing to the increasing popularity of smartphones and tablets. Windows 8.1 now has a home screen that looks good in portrait mode on screens measuring 7 inches to 8 inches diagonally and hence is deemed to be apt for usage in tablets.

Microsoft has decided to retire Windows XP in 2014, a fact that sparked rumours that enterprises using XP would now shift to the newly-launched Windows 8.1. However, as per Gartner, enterprises have been showing a preference for Windows 7 rather than 8.1. This may be due to the fact that businesses normally transition to older operating systems rather than newly-launched ones which are yet to witness broad-based adoption.

As per reports of market research firm IDC, in the second-quarter of 2013, Google’s (GOOG) Android OS was the leading smartphone operating system with a 79% share of the total market, followed by Apple’s (AAPL) iOS with a 13% share and Windows well behind with 3.7%.

Microsoft Corporation develops, manufactures, licenses, sells and supports software products. The company operates in five segments: Windows & Windows Live Division, Server and Tools, Online Services Division, Microsoft Business Division, and Entertainment and Devices Division.

Currently, Microsoft has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). However, Infoblox Inc (BLOX) with a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) is an attractive investment option this season.

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