Microsoft Windows 8 Officially Unveiled at NYC Event

Microsoft officially unveiled Windows 8 at a massive event in New York Oct. 25. After more than a billion hours of testing and a year of hype, can the operating system live up to Microsoft's claims?

NEW YORK — Touting the day as one full of excitement, Microsoft officially launched its Windows 8 operating system at a major event here.

Addressing a standing-room-only crowd of press, analysts, partners and others on Oct. 25, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer stormed the stage with a typically Ballmer-ific display, proclaiming: “This is an exciting day!”

Indeed, after years of buildup, development and the pre-release version of the product, Windows 8—which Microsoft says is its best OS ever, or at least the best release of Windows ever—has hit the market. Steven Sinofsky, president of Microsoft’s Windows Division, said “Windows 8 reimagines Windows from the chipset to the experience.”

Windows 8 offers better battery life, faster boot time and a smaller memory footprint than previous Microsoft operating systems. It is compatible with Windows 7 hardware and software and has undergone more than 1.24 billion hours of testing, said Sinofsky. The new OS also has enabled the development of the best PCs ever available, said Ballmer. Microsoft has certified more than 1,000 devices for Windows 8.

In addition to launching Windows 8, Microsoft also opened its Windows Store and the new Windows RT operating system that run on ARM processors and power the Microsoft Surface and devices from partners such as Dell, Samsung and Lenovo, among others. Windows RT devices are thinner and lighter and offer longer battery life, although they do not run apps intended for Windows 7. Windows RT devices will only run Windows Store apps.

Microsoft said the new Windows 8 hardware is available for every budget. “You can get fully capable PCs ready for Windows 8 that are under $300,” said Sinofsky. Mike Angiulo, a Microsoft corporate vice president said, “You can get a touch-enabled notebook on Day 1 that costs $499.”

Beginning Friday, Oct. 26, consumers and businesses worldwide will be able to experience all that Windows 8 has to offer, including a beautiful new user interface and a wide range of applications with the grand opening of the Windows Store. As a result of close work with hardware partners, more than 1,000 certified PCs and tablets, including Microsoft Surface, will be available for the launch of Windows 8—making it the best lineup of PCs ever across the Windows 8 and Windows RT ecosystem.

“We have reimagined Windows, and the result is a stunning lineup of new PCs,” Ballmer said in a statement. “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 will be available for download to upgrade existing PCs in more than 140 markets and 37 languages at beginning at 12:01 a.m. local time and at retail locations around the world. At retail, Windows 8 will be available in two primary versions — Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro—as well as Windows 8 Enterprise for large organizations. Launching at the same time is a new member of the Windows family—Windows RT—designed for ARM-based tablets and available preinstalled on new devices. In addition to Microsoft Office 2013, Windows RT is designed exclusively for apps in the new Windows Store. Windows 8 features the new fast and fluid Start screen that gives people one-click access to the apps and content they care most about. It also features an entirely new Internet Explorer 10 that is perfect for touch as well as built-in cloud capabilities with SkyDrive.

Windows 8 can be purchased in a variety of ways from the world’s leading retailers, including Amazon, Best Buy and Staples in the U.S., Casas Bahia in Brazil, Future Shop and Staples in Canada, Suning in China, Media Markt across Europe, FNAC in France, Yamada in Japan, Telmex in Mexico, Dixons in the U.K. and many more. A variety of offers will be available for customers looking for great deals on Windows 8 PCs, devices and software.

In addition to the range of new Windows-based devices available, consumers can also upgrade their existing PCs. Through the end of January, consumers currently running PCs with Windows XP, Windows Vista or Windows 7 are qualified to download an upgrade to Windows 8 Pro for an estimated retail price of $39.99. And eligible Windows 7 PCs purchased between June 2, 2012, and Jan. 31, 2013, in more than 140 markets can download an upgrade to Windows 8 Pro for an estimated retail price of $14.99 with the Windows Upgrade Offer, available at