Windows 8 goes live, marking a 'new era' for Microsoft

Windows 8 officially launched today at a press event in New York. So is the new Microsoft OS any good? 

A man takes a picture of a monitor during an event promoting the debut of Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system at the Akihabara district in Tokyo, on October 25, 2012. Windows 8 officially launched today.

Windows 8 has officially launched, thus inaugurating a "new era for Microsoft and our customers," Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer said at a press event in midtown New York.

Beginning today, Windows 8 will be available on a range of devices, including desktops, laptops, and Surface tablet computers. 

"With Windows 8, we have brought together the best of all worlds, the PC and the tablet, your work and your life," Ballmer said at the event, according to The Wall Street Journal

In a separate address, Steven Sinofsky, who heads the Windows team at Microsoft, announced that Windows 8 had undergone approximately 1.24 billion hours of public testing in 190 countries. (Horizons readers will remember that Windows 8 launched in "consumer preview" mode way back in February.) "No product anywhere receives this kind of testing anywhere in the world," Sinofsky said

So has all that testing paid off? Well, early reviews of the new OS are largely positive. CNN calls it a "big, beautiful, slightly shaky step forward."

Writing at the Guardian, Charles Arthur says Microsoft really couldn't have done anything else: "The desktop paradigm is getting tired, and the tiles approach is fresh and quickly becomes intuitive." 

And here's Tom Warren of the Verge, who awarded Windows 8 extremely high marks across the board: 

Windows 8 is a beautiful operating system and one that feels incredibly personal once it’s customized. Microsoft has a huge fight on its hands now to ensure developers create beautiful apps. Some of the best Android and iOS apps are created by organizations or individuals who have showed little interest in Microsoft. If the software maker can change people’s perceptions of Windows, from viruses to bluescreens, into one of speed and style then the apps will flow and Microsoft has a hit on its hands. 

In related news, reviews of the new Microsoft Surface tablet began trickling out yesterday.

And the consensus there may sound familiar: The Surface is a solid, beautiful device, critics say. If only it had more apps!

"If you're an early adopter willing to forget everything you know about navigating a computer, the Surface tablet could replace your laptop. Everyone else: wait for more apps," one reviewer wrote

Planning on picking up Windows 8? Drop us a line in the comments section. And for more tech news, follow us on Twitter @venturenaut.

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