NEW YORK: Microsoft said on Thursday its "reimagined" Windows 8 will launch Friday in 37 languages and 140 worldwide markets, as the tech giant unveiled the new version of its computer operating system.
"We have reimagined Windows and the result is a stunning lineup of new PCs," said Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer in announcing the new system of Windows designed to help the transition to growing mobile Internet use.
At an event, Steven Sinofsky, president of Microsoft's Windows division announced the ability of Windows users to upgrade to Windows 8 online and in the store. The updates start at $39.99 for consumers.
Sinofsky claims that Windows 8 has a better battery life, , faster boot time, smaller memory footprint, strong work with partners, and compatibility with Windows 7hardware and software.
"Windows 8 is designed to work with mouse and keyboard, as well as touch. That's the big selling point of the new OS," he said. "The potential market for Windows is the largest of any platform," he added.
"You will see fully capable PCs for Windows 8 for under $300," Sinofsky said.
The software giant has gambled by changing long familiar user interface features to make Windows 8 compatible with trends toward keeping programs and data in the Internet "cloud" and relying on mobile gadgets at work and at home
Windows 8 will support a wide range of devices, including touch- and stylus-based smartphones and tablet PCs as well as desktop and laptop machines.
Instead of the familiar Start menu and icons, Windows 8 displays applications as a colorful array of tiles, which can feature updated information from the applications.
The tiles are big and easy to hit with a finger - convenient for a touch screen. Applications fill the whole screen by default - convenient for a tablet screen, which is usually smaller than a PC's. The little buttons that surround Windows 7 applications, for functions like controlling the speaker volume, are hidden, giving a clean, uncluttered view. When you need those little buttons, you can bring them out, but users have to figure out on their own how to do it.
Windows 8 is the biggest revision of Microsoft Corp's operating system since it introduced Windows 95 amid great fanfare 17 years ago.
Windows remains the dominant platform for personal computers, but it has lost ground to Apple and Google in newer devices which use rival operating systems.