The Windows 8 release date is Friday. The release date for the latest Windows - known as Windows 8 General Availability, or GA - is in line with the Autumn 2012/Fall 2012 release date we were expecting.
However, we have been playing with the new operating system for a little while - make sure you check out our in depth Windows 8 review.
Microsoft will offer only three versions, two for Intel-based PCs (Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro) and Windows 8 RT for ARM-based tablets like the Microsoft Surface. The new OS offers both a traditional desktop interface and the Metro-style touch-friendly UI.
Windows 8 price
Microsoft is offering Windows 8 upgrades priced at just $39.99USD/£24.99 for anyone using an existing product. The offer will be open until January 31 and after that the OS will cost a higher price.
If you're currently running Windows 7, Windows Vista or Windows XP on your PC or laptop you'll qualify for a downloadable copy of the top-level Windows 8 Pro for the knockdown price. You will also get Media Center as an additional free download.
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A Windows 8 upgrade assistant wizard will walk you through the process. Microsoft says the upgrade process as easy as possible and will also extend to buying a physical disc in store, although that option will cost $69.99/£49.99.
New Windows 8 and Windows RT PCs will be available to buy too - Microsoft Surface has also been released.
Windows 8 will be available in 109 languages across 231 markets worldwide.
Windows 8 upgrades
A post on the Windows 8 blog explains which files and settings users will be able to bring with them, depending on the pervious version of the OS in question.
"It will ask you what you want to keep from your current Windows installation," the post reads.
"You will be able to upgrade from any consumer edition of Windows 7 to Windows 8 Pro and bring everything along which includes your Windows settings, personal files, and apps.
"If you are upgrading from Windows Vista, you will be able to bring along your Windows settings and personal files, and if you are upgrading from Windows XP you will only be able to bring along your personal files. Of course, if you want to start fresh, you can choose to bring nothing along."
Windows 8 release date announcement
The announcement of the October date came during the main keynote at Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference 2012. Windows chief marketing officer Tami Reller stated the Windows 8 release date was set for "late October". Windows President Steven Sinofsky subsequently made the official date announcement at Microsoft's annual sales meeting.
RTM took place in August; that means release to manufacturing, essentially the date at which the bods at Microsoft shout "it's finished", the code goes gold and it gets sent to the disc pressing plants.
That long-awaited operating system will be available in all of the major territories as a downloadable upgrade or to buy in store on that launch date, a mere 14 weeks away.
Reller also revealed Microsoft has sold 630 million Windows 7 licenses to date - 30 million extra sales over the company's previous announcement in June.
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