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Successful but boring: why Windows 8 needs to be like iPhone 5

The smartphone revolution... the iPhone evolution... and Windows 8

It will have escaped the notice only of hermits and those living under holy orders that the iPhone 5 recently launched. The level of interest engendered in a point upgrade of Apple's smartphone is staggering. Meanwhile Microsoft would love to see similar interest in Windows 8: a product that is less of a revolution than you might imagine.

Leaving aside such an intriguing naming convention for the sixth generation Apple smartphone, the most noteworthy aspect of the iPhone 5 launch is the level of interest in a product that is merely an iterative development of its predecessor. The original iPhone changed smartphones forever -the iPhone 5 merely finesses the iPhone 4S with welcome but minor upgrades.

Gone are the days when Apple's mobile devices were so far ahead of everyone else's as to make comparison pointless. With high-end Android phones from the likes of Samsung and Sony, and the upcoming Nokia and HTC Windows phones, the iPhone is now just one of a bunch of amazing handhelds. See all smartphone reviews.

But a quick glance at the online readership figures tells us Apple hasn't lost its knack of generating web-melting levels of interest. There's a lot of passion for the iPhone 5, and many reader comments were posted on our coverage. Lots of them bemoaned the fact that the iPhone 5 isn't as 'radical' or 'ground-breaking' as its predecessors. By making a succession of brilliant, game-changing products - OS X, iPod, iPhone, iPad –Apple has set the bar impossibly high. Anything less than revolutionary looks like failure.

Given that it shifted more than 5 million iPhone 5s in the first weekend it was on sale, Apple could probably care less. And as it prepares to launch its own game changer it's a problem Microsoft would love to have.

Windows 8: revolutionary fail?

Windows 8 has garnered far less public interest in the run up to its October 26 launch than did the iPhone 5. But it is seen as a total break with the past – as much of a year zero for desktop and laptop PCs as was the original iPhone for mobiles.

Both of these perceptions are wrong, as our in-depth Windows 8 review shows. I've been using the final Windows 8 code for several weeks now. I've written about this in my article 'Using Windows 8 on a PC: 10 things we've learnt', but suffice to say it is an impressive OS. And at £25 it's a worthwhile and far-from-scary upgrade.

Partly in response to the success of Apple's products Microsoft has designed Windows 8 to work well on an array of devices, from PCs to Ultrabooks and tablets. But don't think that Windows 8 represents a steep learning curve for PC or laptop users.

In fact it is simply a stable and fast desktop and laptop OS. Yes, the Start menu has disappeared, but it has been replaced by a Start screen from which you can access apps and live data (although you don't have to). And while touchscreen input makes Windows 8 fun, it works just as well with mouse and keyboard.

Windows 8 makes any PC faster, and adds features such as the Windows Store. It won't be for everyone, but for £25 it's a nice upgrade. And that may be the most revolutionary thing about it.

For more on the changes in Windows 8 and how to use them visit Windows 8 Advisor. For detailed advice on installing Windows 8 Release Preview, read our article: How to install Windows 8.

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