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Can Windows 8 bag Microsoft 20 more years at the top?

Argue the toss live online @ 2pm BST on Friday

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Live chat Microsoft opened the 1990s with two pieces of software that paved the way to its total domination of home and business PC computing: Windows 3.0 and 3.1.

Microsoft's operating systems arrived at a seminal point in digital history: the rise of Intel, whose chips changed the economics of the PC, and the demise of a fractured competition that failed to match Microsoft's determination and energy.

Twenty years on, Microsoft is on the eve of releasing another major operating system, Windows 8, something CEO Steve Ballmer has called the riskiest bet in his company's entire history. That's saying something.

The stakes are certainly high: a dominant market share easily turns into billions of dollars of repeatable revenue and a chance to define the future of personal computing. And just like in 1990 and 1992, we are at another major point in history as we ditch the mouse and move to touch tablets and bung everything into the cloud.

Unlike the 1990s, the competition - Apple, Google and Amazon - are bigger, better funded and more focused while the market is unforgiving. The old maxim that Microsoft gets it right on version three is dead in a world where success rests on your first product.

Has Windows 8 got what it takes to deliver another twenty years of success for Microsoft or has the market now changed too much?

Join fellow Register readers, Microsoft watchers Mary-Jo Foley and Tim Anderson, and Reg software editor Gavin Clarke for an interactive LiveChat about Windows 8 and Microsoft in the post-PC world of Linux, Apple, cloud, phones and tablets.

The discussion is LIVE, and will take place right here, in the box below, at 2pm BST on Friday, 27 April. ®

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