Microsoft has launched the latest version of its world-famous Windows operating system, along with the greatly anticipated Surface tablet.
At a showcase event in New York last night the software giant launched Windows 8, showcasing versions available for both desktop computers and tablets.
Steven Sinofsky, president of Microsoft’s Windows division, described the new software as “simply the best release of Windows ever”.
Windows 8 brings a whole new interface to the desktop and looks radically different to earlier versions of the software. Icons have been replaced by coloured tiles which echo the Metro user interface that has been seen on Microsoft’s Windows Phone software since the platform’s re-launch last year.
Along with the revamped desktop suite, Microsoft also launched its Surface tablet, a new own-brand device which will compete directly against manufacturers such as Samsung and Asus, both of whom are building tablet devices for the new Windows platform.
As a part of the promotional campaign surrounding the new tablet’s launch Microsoft opened a shop in Times Square, New York, dedicated entirely to the Surface device. Sinofsky said of the tablet that “everything Microsoft has done is coming together” adding that it is “great to see so much passion for the potential”.
Perhaps confusingly, Surface runs a further version of Microsoft’s software called Windows RT which is specifically configured to run on tablets which feature ARM processors. While the device’s manufacturer is boasting that it has a ten hour battery life and distinctive cover/keyboard attachment, the tablet will not be able to run certain programmes including Photoshop and iTunes.
However, Microsoft is rumoured to working on an Intel-powered tablet which will run the full version of Windows 8 and be ready for launch in January.
Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, has already joined the fray and denounced the Surface as a “compromised, confusing product”.
Speaking yesterday, the boss of the iPad manufactuer said: “I suppose you could design a car that flies and floats, but I don’t think it would do those things very well.”
Microsoft’s new mobile platform, Windows Phone 8, is set to be launched at an event in San Francisco on 29 October, with several manufacturers including Nokia and HTC having already unveiled devices that will run the software.