Microsoft’s new computer operating system, Windows 8, goes on sale today. The company says its new OS will be available on more than a thousand PC and tablet models, including the company’s own Microsoft Surface tablet devices.
Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s CEO, said “We have reimagined Windows and the result is a stunning lineup of new PCs. Windows 8 brings together the best of the PC and the tablet. It works perfect for work and play and it is alive with your world. Every one of our customers will find a PC that they will absolutely love.”
Windows 8 is also available to download or buy as an upgrade, with a special promotional offer available until the end of January 2013.
There’ll be two main versions: Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro. In addition, larger organisations will be able to install Windows 8 Enterprise while some ARM-based tablets (including Microsoft Surface models) will have Windows RT built in.
Research company Informa Telecoms & Media estimates that more than 70% of PC users will be on Microsoft Windows 8 by the end of 2014, with 36% using new hardware supporting touchscreen input. In a blog post, Principal Analyst Malik Kamal-Saadi said “This is probably the most important announcement in Microsoft’s history since the launch of its Windows 3.0 in 1990. This is not just a product announcement; it is a new strategic direction that will redefine the way computers are used.”
A formal announcement about Microsoft’s new mobile OS, Windows Phone 8, is expected on Monday.