It’s been a few months since the launch of Windows 8, and there’s been time to look at how it works, what it does, and what the opportunities are for partners. What’s clear is that this is not an incremental update – Windows 8 is a serious game-changer. The last time PC operating system updates included a new input devices was when the mouse made its debut. Touch has become the standard for smartphones, and it makes perfect logical sense to bring it to desktop and tablet PCs. If, like me, you’ve absentmindedly swiped the screen of your laptop computer to wake it up, or tapped an icon on the screen after using your smartphone, you’ll know what I mean; there’s been a very legitimate use case for touch in actual PCs for a while now, but the software wasn’t there – until the launch of Windows 8. How innovative is this? Innovative enough that Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, sees Microsoft coming up with more new ideas than Apple at the moment.

All of this translates into great opportunities at all levels for Dell PartnerDirect members. Of course, there’s the straight laptop and desktop PC replacement opportunity; there are still two million PCs on Windows XP, which is a huge upgrade opportunity. The latest hardware, supporting multitouch, provides a huge power boost. And Surface devices are pretty cool too; imagine having the convenience of a tablet, crossed with the connectivity, security, manageability and power of a real PC. We’ve Ultrabooks, like the Latitude 6430u (see image below) hybrid convertible laptops and tablets, like the XPS 12, the Latitude 10 tablet; and of course all-in-one PCs, such as the OptiPlex 9010 AIO, that respond to touch as well as keyboard, mouse and voice input – take a look here for more information.

Dell Latitude 6430u Ultrabook

Although the immediate opportunity may be focused on tablets and PCs; Windows 8 has ramifications for the wider ecosystem, too, from firewalls and Unified Threat Management devices through to the datacentre itself. I think we need to start thinking of Windows 8 as more than its forebears; Windows 95 was an operating system that supported excellent office productivity software; modern Windows operating systems are far more than this. Look at the enterprise and datacentre software and services wrapped around it, and it becomes clear exactly how important Windows 8 is, and how it pulls through all kinds of other opportunities – not least services, which Microsoft believes is worth close to $40m from Windows 8.

There are real and tangible benefits to customers bundled up in Windows 8 and its supporting services that we’ll see more and more of over the coming months. Windows 8 changes the way people work; touch, mobility and software development all have a role to play. The surrounding apps and services combine to offer very strong upgrade arguments, too. Over the next few months, I expect to see some truly amazing stories about Dell Partners getting the most from Windows 8 for their customers!