Microsoft’s new operating system, Windows 8, will launch on October 26, the company has confirmed.
Writing on the official ‘Blogging Windows’ site, Microsoft’s Brandon LeBlanc said that “Steven Sinofsky [Microsoft’s head of Windows] announced at Microsoft’s annual sales meeting that customers will be able to get Windows 8 – whether in upgrade fashion or on a new PC – starting on October 26”.
The software giant had previously said that Windows 8 would be available in October, but had not confirmed the date.
The new Windows 8 software includes an interface primarily for tablet computers, which Microsoft calls Metro, as well as an enhanced version of the existing Windows 7. Microsoft has described the update as its most radical, and is even producing its own range of computers, called Surface, to showcase it. It hopes to challenge Google and Apple for the dominance of the tablet category.
The latest trial version of the software, release Preview, expands on the Consumer Preview that Microsoft released in Barcelona earlier in the year, and is available free for users to download and test. Users are warned, however, that the free test expires and will entirely replace the existing Windows operating system.
Gabriel Aul, Director of Windows Programme Management, told the Telegraph that the release preview software was “all of what will be in the final product in terms of big features”. He added, however, that colours and themes were yet to be finalised.
The new software is designed to work as well on tablets as on traditional computers, and will replace Microsoft Windows 7, which has sold 525 million copies since it was released three years ago. Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer has already talked of 500million machines running Windows 8 within a year.
The Metro interface borrows heavily from Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform, while Microsoft has also redesigned the traditional ‘Start’ button, replacing it with a much more angular design that changes colour depending on which theme a user chooses. The Start menu has become an entire, customisable homescreen, and in desktop mode the Start button is no longer a permanent fixture