Microsoft has officially launched Windows 8 at an event in New York, ushering in a new era of Windows as the platform hits retail and online outlets and is available on over a thousand certified PC models, according to the firm.
Speaking at the launch, Windows division president Steven Sinofsky hailed Windows 8 as a major milestone in the evolution of computing, moving Windows from the world of the keyboard and mouse into the era of touch-oriented mobile devices.
"Today, we're connected all the time. People and communication are the new centre of activities. In creating Windows 8, we shunned the incremental, and instead we have boldly re-imagined Windows for this new era," he said.
Sinofsky also said that Windows 8 was about "the best PCs ever", and the firm showed off a number of new laptop and tablets that will ship with the new platform, including its own Surface tablet (pictured above).
"Today I am pleased to announce that there are over 1,000 new PCs already certified for Windows 8, including fully capable PCs that will be available for under $300," Sinofsky said.
At the same time, Sinofsky declared the "grand opening of the Windows Store", the built-in way to acquire apps designed for Microsoft's new platform, along with the launch of the Windows RT platform which runs on ARM-based hardware such as Microsoft's own Surface tablets.
The latter are claimed to support all-day battery life and feature built-in versions of Microsoft's Office 2013 apps.
Windows 8 is available from 26 October in a limited number of versions - Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro - plus a Windows 8 Enterprise version for large organisations.
While Windows 8 is only hitting the shops now, it has been with testers for some time, including V3 which has already published a full review of Windows 8.
Microsoft said that consumers currently running PCs with Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7 will be able to download Windows 8 Pro for an estimated retail price of £25.
Those who have purchased Windows 7 PCs between 2 June this year and 31 January 2013 will be able to download Windows 8 Pro for an estimated retail price of £15 via the Windows Upgrade Offer.
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