Analysts dissect Microsoft's Windows 8 pitch

Was the long-anticipated debut the best Windows send-off in nearly 20 years, or just 'bupkis?'

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Michael Gartenberg, an analyst with Gartner who was also on site, called Sinofsky's "incremental" comment the best line of the day. "Sinofsky is telling a complex story of Windows 8 and [Windows] RT very well," Gartenberg tweeted from the floor.

Sinofsky handed off to Julie Larson-Green, vice president of Windows, and Mike Angiulo, vice president of Windows hardware and the PC ecosystem, who together touted a score or more new devices that run Windows 8 and Windows RT.

Their part had a distinctly QVC flavor to it, with quick recaps of each device's or PC's attributes, with Larson-Green sometimes searching for adjectives to apply.

"You just can't keep from touching these," Larson-Green exclaimed at one point after talking up several touch-enabled devices. She also boasted of Windows 8's desktop, saying, "We made the desktop in Windows 8 even better than Windows 7."

Customers who have tried the former and been frustrated at the changes, notably the omission of a Start button and Start menu, and the forced boot to the tile-based Start screen, might take exception.

The Larson-Green and Angiulo stage time was the least impressive to analysts.

"It was like walking down the aisles at an automobile auction: almost too many choices and a lot of options to process," said Jack Narcotta of Technology Business Research, in an email reply to questions.

Gillett concurred. "There were just too many [devices]," he said of that segment. "It wasn't curated, and just reinforced our sense that the [Microsoft and OEM] approach makes it harder on buyers."

Unlike Apple, Microsoft has little control over what the actual makers of most Windows PCs and devices look like, how they're manufactured, the degree to which they're polished premium products, or even how they're marketed.

The biggest omission from the hour, according to two analysts, was news about the Windows Store, the Microsoft-controlled distribution outlet for Windows RT and touch-based Windows 8 software.

Many had expected more than just a reminder that the Store was holding its "grand opening" -- a term both Sinofsky and Ballmer used -- on Friday; they had hoped that Microsoft would announce, perhaps in conjunction with some first-tier developers, new Windows 8 apps.

"We got bupkis," complained Gillett. "They didn't even name an app count. They're just not addressing the ecosystem."

Moorhead, who has been adamant about the importance of the Windows Store to the success of Windows RT, and tablets that rely on it, tweeted: "Sinofsky says don't count Windows 8 apps or look for your favorite right now in the store. [But] it's a grand opening."

"They were very strategic in their choice of words," Carolina Milanesi of Gartner said in an interview after the event. "They just said, 'More apps' with no numbers. Really, that was only thing they could say. If the numbers were impressive, they would have used them."

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