We were told earlier this month that Microsoft had pinned down the launch of Windows 8 to some time in late October. It was nice to finally get some confirmation about the release, but we still didn't have an exact date - now we do.
Steven Sinofsky, President of the Windows Division at Microsoft, just announced during the company's annual sales meeting that Windows 8 would be shipping on October 26. On that date, you'll be able to upgrade to it, buy a physical copy in store or buy a new PC with the operating system on it. Microsoft's Windows RT Surface tablet is also expected to launch around that time with the Windows 8 Pro version coming sometime after.
As most Windows users who are upgrading probably already have Windows 7, you will want to take advantage of Microsoft's insane upgrade program. For only $40, users with Windows XP or later can upgrade to Windows 8 through digital download. Those who want a physical copy can pick one up for $70. The special pricing will be available through January 31, 2013.
Windows 8 is Microsoft's chance to prove that they still got it. Many people believe that this is their last chance before Apple gobbles them up and spits them out with Mac OS X and iOS. Windows 8 is definitely something unique only to Microsoft as it's the first operating system to share the same core across all devices whereas Apple requires separate operating systems for mobile and desktop.
We'll find out on October 26 if Microsoft's bet on the future plays out. The Metro interface was designed for portable devices, which Apple already has a strong foothold in. The hype surrounding the recently announced Surface tablet could help catapult Windows 8 to the notoriety it needs to succeed.