Windows 8 is here: Microsoft's new PC and tablet OS goes live

Windows 8 is here: Microsoft's new PC and tablet OS goes live

Microsoft has gone all-out with the build-up, and today it went “all in”, to coin a Steve Ballmer favourite, with Windows 8, the next-generation PC operating system that finally pitches Microsoft full steam into the tablet space.

Unlike its leading OS rivals Apple and Google, Microsoft still sees tablets as keyboardless PCs, which makes things a little awkward for mobile-only sites like ourselves.

But with today's Windows 8 launch being followed early next week by the arrival of the smartphone-specific Windows Phone 8, that isn't that big of a deal as both platforms share a clear visual identity and overlap on many key areas.

That said, the Windows heritage in the PC market was always going to form a big part of the focus in introducing Windows 8 at today's New York launch event.

We were told, for instance, that Windows 7 has been installed a total of 670 million times, that Windows 8 had undergone 1.2 billion hours of testing time and that a fresh install of Windows 8 had given an ultrabook an instant 33% speed bump.

We also heard that 1,000 brand new PCs had been certified to launch with Windows 8, while the ARM-friendly Windows RT will work with an existing 420 million computers.

Which is where it all gets a little confusing for the chap in the street, of course, because that same Windows RT is basically Windows for tablets – or most of them, anyway.

Said chap in street has got used to tablets not really having any obvious link to the PC world – an iPad isn't a Mac, after all, and how many everyday punters have even heard of Chrome OS?

But to many observers Windows 8 was conceived as an attempt to lump everything from your hulking desk-bound family PC to the most portable of slinky tablets into one broad category – a notion that Microsoft has found increasingly difficult to execute the longer time has gone on.

So we can talk about Windows RT and picture passwords for tablet users in the same breath as ruminating over the classic desktop for old-school PC heads, and still be covering the same operating system.

Ultimately, it probably doesn't matter. You can be sure Windows 8 will sell bucketloads of licences – the Windows PC mindset (for better or worse) isn't liable to change overnight. But to return to our own more mobile mindset, it will truly be interesting to see how well Windows 8 tablets will do in the months to come.

Will the deliberate lack of a clear space between cheaper pure-mobile tablets and more PC-like hybrids muddy the waters for Windows or introduce a greater sense of diversity not matched by Apple and Google?

Will the Microsoft Surface tablet prove a success, and will it help or hinder other Windows 8 tablet makers?

How heavily will Windows Phone 8's fortunes affect Windows 8 in the tablet market, and vice versa?

It's hard to disagree with Steve Ballmer that this is truly one of the most important periods in Microsoft's history.

Read more about: Windows 8

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9 comments

SpeedyG  Oct. 25, 2012 at 19:42

Microsoft Surface phone would have been nice... :D

I won't be swapping my Win7 Lappie for a Win8 one any time soon tho.

Reser  Oct. 25, 2012 at 20:22

Ok.. Windows 8 does not launch until tomorrow, 26/10/2012 however.... so why is this article saying it is out now?

mtc1  Oct. 25, 2012 at 20:52

Windows 8 is available now. I installed it at 5pm.

Stelph  Oct. 25, 2012 at 22:58

Going to install this on my Inspiron duo tablet/laptop, think it'll be a good fit on it

Reser  Oct. 25, 2012 at 23:51

Windows 8 is available now. I installed it at 5pm.

You must have installed the release preview or you have the physical boxed version and got it early. As the digital version is not available yet.

http://www.microsoftstore.com/store/msuk/en_GB/pdp/productID.257641900

satchef1  Oct. 26, 2012 at 09:59

The £14.99 upgrade was available early.

maheshkumarg2  Oct. 26, 2012 at 12:38

25 quids??? just thinking why microsoft will sell it for such a low price oO

barrybarryk  Oct. 26, 2012 at 13:29

Because to get the most out of it you need to buy a new PC anyway, which needs a new license not an upgrade. It's not like anyone already has a touchscreen.

SpeedyG  Oct. 27, 2012 at 13:17

Good to hear they're relaxing their mature titles policy blanket ban that could have been a massive own goal.

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