Microsoft Corp. has announced the global availability of Windows 8 and Windows RT operating systems as well as over 1000 certified PCs and tablets, including Microsoft Surface, which are set to be available for the launch of the OS. The new platform redefines Windows as we know it and creates a new eco-system that spans from smartphone to tablet to console to PC.
“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,” said Steve Ballmer, chief executive officer of Microsoft.
Bridging the Gaps
The main idea of Windows 8 is to open up new windows of opportunities by bridging different platforms and even markets with one major eco-system. Windows 8 and Windows RT (which supports ARM) use the Metro user interface also utilized by Windows Phone 8 OS, which uses the same core technology as the PC operating systems. Metro user interface lacks the Start button and is generally a very controversial endeavor as it looks completely different from typical set of icons and is optimized for touch-based input on mobile devices, not for high-resolution monitors on desktops or notebooks.
In many ways Windows 8/Windows RT is a revolutionary platform that will bring many changes to the entire industry. However, at present, there are few significant advantages of the Windows 8 for consumers, and generally none for commercial users. The benefits of technologies introduced by Windows 8 will probably become fruitful only several years down the road. As a result, many will condemn the new operating system for the lack of common tools and plenty of unfamiliar things, just like it happened to Windows Vista. But the latter evolved into Windows 7, the least criticized operating system ever.
No matter how one perceives Windows 8 today, its technologies are here to stay. One user interface and a set of familiar functions across a wide spectrum of devices - this is what simply must exist in the new always-on-always-connected era. Therefore, some elements of Windows 8 may be just right, others - completely wrong. In any case, this is a step in the new direction.
Microsoft Windows 8 will be available in different versions and prices, initially with discounts:
- Windows 8 32-bit or 64-bit version OEM - $99.99
- Windows 8 Pro 32-bit or 64-bit version OEM - $139.99
- Windows 8 Pro Pack (product key only, upgrades Windows 8 to Windows 8 Pro) - $69.99 (original price - $99.99)
- Windows 8 Professional Upgrade (upgrades any Windows XP/Vista/7 PC to Windows 8 Pro) - $69.99 (original price - $199.99)
Microsoft has dropped full retail versions of its operating systems and therefore end-users will have to get OEM versions for personal use. The good news is that they are less expensive, the bad news is that they do not offer tech support.
It is noteworthy that upgrading to Windows 8 Pro from an older operating system will eventually cost more than getting a full Windows 8 Pro. Moreover, those, who definitely plan to migrate to Windows 8 Pro, can upgrade online via Windows.com using the Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant for just $39.99 from October 26, 2012, to January 31, 2013.
Windows 8, As It Is
Microsoft Windows 8 operating system will be available in three editions. All three will support touch-screen, keyboard and mouse, all general capabilities of Windows and Metro-style apps.
- For PCs and tablets powered by x86 processors, Microsoft will offer Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro. Windows 8 will include all the general features of Windows, updated Windows Explorer, Task Manager, better multi-monitor support and the ability to switch languages on the fly (which was previously only available in Enterprise/Ultimate editions of Windows). Windows 8 Pro is designed for tech enthusiasts and business/technical professionals, it offers encryption, virtualization, PC management and domain connectivity. Windows Media Center will be available as an economical “media pack” add-on to Windows 8 Pro.
- For various devices running ARM microprocessors, Microsoft will offer Windows RT, which will include touch-optimized versions of Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote, but will not run Windows applications designed for x86 processors.
Windows 8 will be available for download to upgrade existing PCs in more than 140 markets and 37 languages and at retail locations around the world.