Microsoft chief executive Steven Ballmer has unveiled the company's "defining moment" this week in the form of Windows 8, an innovative new operating system that many analysts believe will be the chief executive's last action for the software giant.

At the launch event in New York on Thursday (October 25th), Ballmer - who is the company's second-largest shareholder behind Bill Gates - unveiled the latest software launch as the company transitions from the PC era to a new one dominated by the connectivity between smartphones, desktops and tablets.

The firm believes Windows 8 will be a boost for PCs, however, rather than a proponent of change that will sound a death knell for them.

As the Guardian reports, the software giant was overtaken by Apple as the world's largest tech company two years ago thanks to the success of the iPhone. With the progress of the iPad and iPad Mini still keeping Apple on top, the company has made a foray into the tablet hardware market in a bid to stay relevant with the Microsoft Surface.

And industry analyst Patrick Moorhead told the newspaper that the launch of Windows 8 was an important step in Microsoft clawing some of that market back.

"This is going to be his defining moment," said the Moor Insights & Strategy expert. "Ballmer's legacy will be looked at as what he did or didn't do with Windows 8. If Windows 8 is not a success, a lot of people will be looking for Microsoft to make a change at the CEO level."

Initial reports have praised Windows 8 - and the interface, which is a radical departure from traditional operating systems and focuses on 'tiles' and streams of information from social networks - as being fast, fluid and fun to use. A major challenge for Microsoft will be convincing users to depart from the Start Menu and embrace a system which has an eye fixed firmly on a touchscreen future.

Windows 8 is released in the UK today (October 26th).ADNFCR-1220-ID-801477173-ADNFCR
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