Microsoft has released Windows 8 – its operating system for personal computers and tablet PCs – in the UK with Windows 7 users able to upgrade from £24.99.
Windows 8 signals a fundamental shift by Microsoft in Windows, with the new version promising enhanced security, a dramatically different interface, and support for touchscreen devices. Its new interface – dubbed Modern UI by Microsoft – borrows heavily from its Windows Phone operating system, and ditches many established Windows features such as the Start Menu.
Windows 8 UK pricing
Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7 owners can download Windows 8 Pro directly from Microsoft for £24.99. A DVD version of the Windows 8 Pro upgrade will cost £49.99. Microsoft is shipping several editions of Windows – Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro and Windows 8 Enterprise. A special edition, Windows 8 RT, will be included on new Windows tablets.
Read our guide to Windows 8 new features, pricing and upgrading
Microsoft claims that any PC or laptop that runs Windows 7 will be able to upgrade to Windows 8. The company says that Windows 7 Home Basic and Windows 7 Home Premium users will not need to reinstall software once the upgrade is complete.
The release of Windows 8 heralds major changes to how Windows works. Microsoft is pinning its hopes on a new Start Screen interface that displays installed programs in a grid, similar to the interface of a tablet. Live information – such as emails, weather and social networking updates – also feature on the Start Screen.
Windows 8 apps
Also new is the addition of a Windows Store for shopping for software programs directly from Windows, with the ability to buy, download and install them directly into Windows. A new range of included programs – called ‘apps’ in Windows 8 – are included. Maps is a mapping application powered by Bing Maps, while the People app pulls together contact details, photos, status updates and social network posts of friends into one place. Internet Explorer has been updated, banishing the interface to allow for full-screen viewing of a web page without extra clutter.
Security has been increased in Windows 8, according to Microsoft. A Secure Boot option claims to prevent malware from infecting a PC when it starts up, and a Do Not Track feature prevents websites from tracking your online behaviour.
A number of PC makers – including Dell, HP and Asus – are planning to launch new Windows 8 PCs. People who purchased a Windows 7 PC after June 2, 2012 can upgrade to Windows 8 for £14.99 with Microsoft’s Windows Upgrade Offer.
- Microsoft Windows 8 new features guide – the Which? guide to all you need to know