As reviews and predictions increase ahead of Friday’s release of Microsoft Corp.’s (NASDAQ: MSFT) Windows 8, a few issues dominate the commentary. The first is that Windows 8 is such a radical departure that people who might upgrade will be put off by the substantial changes that will force them to learn how to navigate an almost entirely new environment. The second is that Windows 8 is a less important product than Windows has been in the past. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) Mac sales have blossomed in the past few years. Many people have dropped PCs completely to use tablets and smartphones, many of which run on the Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) Android OS. And many companies believe that they do not need the upgrade at all because their employees use Windows primarily for Word, Excel, email and basic Internet access. Reuters reports:
There was once a time when the launch of a new Windows operating system was a huge deal for the technology departments in many businesses. Not anymore. Microsoft Corp’s release of Windows 8 on Friday is likely to be a non-event for most companies — and some experts say many may never adopt it.
Ongoing European Troubles
The latest report about how Europe’s nations will be bailed out, what the role of the International Monetary Fund will be, whether Germany will block plans that cost its taxpayers too much, and the role of the United Kingdom in proceeding toward a comprehensive solution to these problems has scuttled hope that resolutions are just around the next corner. It has been rumored recently that Spain will receive a partial bailout and that this will trigger European Central Bank purchases of its sovereign paper. This will in turn bring down the rates Spain must pay to raise money in the capital markets. The latest bickering is between Germany and the U.K. Britain’s role in most of the big issues of recasting the finances of the region has been limited until now. The Financial Times reports:
Germany is planning to warn Britain that it will seek to cancel next month’s European budget summit if David Cameron, the prime minister, insists that he will veto any deal other than a total freeze on spending.
Angela Merkel, Germany’s chancellor, does not believe there is any point in holding the budget summit to agree on a seven-year framework for EU spending if Britain intends to veto any deal, say people close to the negotiations.
Falling Gasoline Prices
The hope that gasoline prices in the United States will drop finally has some support, based on recent numbers. The AAA Fuel Gauge report shows that the price for an average gallon of regular has fallen recently. Yesterday, that gallon cost $3.676, down from $3.794 a week ago and $3.833 a month ago. The price remains high enough that it may dent the consumer spending of many lower-income households, and some middle class ones. Much of the country still has to pay $4 a gallon, or nearly that much. Heavily populated states such as California, Connecticut and New York all fall within this range. For those who need to use premium gasoline, the national price average yesterday was $4.010. All of these prices are down a bit, but could still throttle activity as the critical holiday spending seasons starts.
Douglas A. McIntyre