Windows 8 will be available Oct. 26th. Today, Microsoft ended months of speculation about Windows 8's launch date by announcing it at the Microsoft Global Exchange sales conference, shortly before Brandon LeBlanc broke the news to the public via the Windows blog. Microsoft gave fans a general time frame a few weeks ago, but hasn't provided an official date until now. Several news sites predicted that Oct. 25th would be the date, based on the Windows 7 launch, but Microsoft shook things up. A little.
As we noted earlier, you'll be able to upgrade for $39.99. Not every user will be counting the days to the Oct. 26th launch (after all, many people are pretty happy with older Windows versions), but if you're in that camp, be forewarned that you may find yourself needing to upgrade if you intend to move up to Office 2013. The new Office is expected to not support Windows versions older than Windows 7.