Microsoft has announced that Windows 8 will be generally available on Oct. 26.
That means the much-anticipated operating system will be available for PCs shipping for the holiday shopping season. At its Worldwide Partner Conference last week in Toronto, Microsoft announced that Windows 8 would be released to manufacturers (RTM) during the first week in August and would be available on PCs at the end of October. Then on July 18 at Microsoft's annual sales meeting, known as the Microsoft Global Exchange or MGX, Steven Sinofsky, president of Windows at Microsoft, announced that Windows 8 would be available on Oct. 26.
Earlier this month, Microsoft announced that upgrades to Windows 8 from previous versions of the operating system will go for $39.99 via download and $69.99 if purchased in a store. The low-cost upgrade is positioned as a promotion available only from the time Windows 8 ships this fall until Jan. 31, 2013, Microsoft said. Users running Windows XP, Windows Vista or Windows 7 will be able to download Windows 8 Pro in 131 markets.
Meanwhile, with the general release of Windows 8, Microsoft also will introduce its new Surface tablet computers to the market, but only the Windows RT-based model. In June, Microsoft announced its new Surface tablet computers, noting that two models of Surface will be available: one running an ARM processor featuring Windows RT, and one with a third-generation Intel Core processor featuring Windows 8 Pro. At a June 18 launch event in Los Angeles, Microsoft said Surface for Windows RT will release with the general availability of Windows 8, and the Windows 8 Pro model will be available about 90 days later. Both will be sold in the Microsoft Store locations in the U.S. and available through select online Microsoft Stores.
In an April 16 post on the Windows Team Blog, LeBlanc laid out details on the various versions of Windows 8: Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro, Windows RT and Windows 8 Enterprise.