Windows 8 is Here, Officially Launches at Midnight

In his opening remarks at today’s Windows 8 press event, Steve Sinofsky noted that it’s been almost exactly three years since Microsoft launched Windows 7; it’s been nearly that long that consumers and businesses alike have been awaiting Windows 8.

After midnight tonight, Windows 8 and all the goodies that go with it will officially be available. That includes the new Windows Store, from which users can discover new apps and install (and uninstall) them with one click.

Windows 8 launch

The deluge of Windows 8 PCs has already begun, and there are all sorts of form factors coming available, from all-in-ones to ultrabooks to convertible to tablets, and Windows is calling them all “PCs”. One interesting tidbit about them all, though, is that Sinofsky noted that there will be “fully capable” Windows 8 PCs for as little as $300.

Windows 8 is designed for personalization with custom start screens, optimized for touch with the live tiles interface, and built for convenience with integration with Microsoft Live. Integration with SkyDrive is tight--you can even save a file directly to it--and users get the benefits of built-in Skype, Internet Explorer 10, webmail, Xbox music and video (which includes some 30 million tracks and the ability to rent or buy TV shows and movies), and Bing.

Windows 8 launch

Windows 8 runs on Intel x86, Intel Atom, and ARM chips, and Windows RT--the version built for ARM--will include the full Windows 8 experience, including built-in Office 2013 apps, but it won’t run Windows 7 applications. It will, however, include access to the Windows Store and the apps that will run on the platform, Skype, and access to all the many Live applications.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer took the stage to end the event and gave his spirited two cents on Windows 8 and the many associated PCs that are coming along with it. He clearly believes that Microsoft is not only on the right track with Windows 8, but is also keeping pace with (or in his opinion, exceeding) Apple and Google in terms of operating systems, app delivery systems, unified interfaces, online services, and hardware options.

Windows 8 launch

In any case, users will be able to upgrade from previous versions of Windows for as little as $39.99. So get going tonight to get your own copy and see if you agree with Ballmer.