Windows 8 officially launched

The new Windows 8 OS from Microsoft is officially about, as the company took to its New York press event to throw open the doors to the Windows Store for apps, and lay the brand new OS bare for the pickings.

Windows 8 will come in two flavours, both sporting the minimalist tile-based interface Microsoft debuted in Windows Phone 7. Windows 8 RT is the sized-down version, built to run on ARM processors that power most mobile devices such as tablets. Apps can be downloaded only from Windows Store.

Regular Windows 8 will look the same, but support more 'legacy apps' like Office 2010 and other programs you might be using on your Windows PC right now. It's designed to run on the Intel and AMD chips that power desktops and laptops, so you'll be able to install apps from a disk drive as well as download them from the official store.

Windows head Steven Sinofsky led the presentation, calling Windows 8 'the best release of Windows ever'. Apparently 'hundreds' of new Windows 8 apps are being added every day, though Sinofsky didn't elaborate on the total number. Let's hope it's not another case of the Windows Marketplace's 100,000-including-wallpapers-and-ringtones.

Of course, even the best OS in the world isn't much use with a sexy bit of hardware – and Microsoft is putting exactly 1,000 Windows 8 machines on sale at midnight (New York time), including the Microsoft Surface, available in the UK from the Microsoft Store.

The Surface will be available in RT and regular flavours, with RT available first, starting at £399 for the 32GB version and and £559 for the 64GB one, which includes a black Touch Cover, usually selling for £99.

Both versions will sync perfectly with Windows Phone 8, which we'll be getting our hands on come Monday 29 October – so we'll be letting you know exactly how the two work together.

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