After several years of development, the public will have an opportunity to vote for or against Windows 8 with their checkbooks. Windows 8 goes on sale around the world at 12:01a.m. local time around the world, with an upgrade price as low as $ 39.95.
“This is the best release of Windows ever,” Windows chief Steven Sinofsky said at the Windows 8 launch event in New York today. He noted that Windows 8 has been heavily road-tested, with 1.24 billion hours of pre-release testing across 190 countries.
Read: Full coverage of Window 8
Previous versions of Windows have been touted as the best ever, but Windows 8 is a much bigger bet for the company. Over a billion people use Windows, but Windows 8 will require some retraining to get for users to get the hang of the new interface with its touch capabilities.
Review: Aggressively innovative Windows 8 forces a steep learning curve
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer took the stage, pronouncing, “Windows 8 shatters perceptions of what a PC is.” He was referring to Microsoft’s Surface
tablet/PC hybrid and the touch interface that is at the center of the Windows 8 user experience. Reviewers have given Microsoft kudos for technology innovation in the Surface but cite slow performance and a lack of applications for the device.
Review: Surface, an innovative tablet stranded in an app desert
Read: Microsoft Surface vs. Apple iPad (4th gen) vs. Asus Transformer Infinity
Microsoft hopes to continue the success of
Windows 7 in business with the new version of Windows. Window 7 sold 670 million licenses to business and consumers since its launch three years ago, Sinofksy said. ”More than half of enterprises use Windows 7,” he said.
To help kickstart Windows 8, Sinofsky said that 1,000 new PCs have already been certified to work with it.
With analysts forecasting sales of about 400 million PCs in the next year, mostly shipped with Windows 8, Microsoft will quickly reach high volume sales. However, enterprises will be slow to adopt a new user interface that is so radically different from what they have been using for nearly two decades.
Windows 8 is not just aimed at preserving Microsoft’s dominance in the business world — it’s also poised to begin its battle to keep Windows relevant and profitable in the new era of mobile computing dominated by Apple and Google.
Sinofsky touted the new Windows Store, claiming that it has more apps than any competing app store at its opening. That may be accurate, but for now Microsoft has less than 10,000 apps and both Google and Apple have more than 700,000 apps for their respective platforms. ”Developers are working fast and furiously to stock the shelves of the new Windows Store,” Ballmer said.
Read: Microsoft tries to play leapfrog with Windows 8
“In the case of Windows 8, seeing, touching, clicking and swiping is really believing,” Ballmer said in his closing remarks. Now the billion or so Windows customers will have a chance to decide for themselves whether they believe in Windows 8.