Microsoft has finally revealed an official release date for its Windows 8 OS. The date that's been decided upon is October 26, which falls on a Friday.
The announcement was made at Microsoft's annual sales meeting, and follows months of speculation. The company recently promised an October release date for its next major operating system.
Windows 8 will be the most important iteration of the popular OS in recent memory. It will see the most radical overhaul of the familiar Windows desktop style since it was initially conceived in 1985.
In place of the traditional desktop, Microsoft is adopting a similar Metro UI to the one already found on the Xbox 360 dashboard and on Windows Phone 7 devices. As this suggests, Microsoft is aiming for a 'one OS to rule them all' approach across its various platforms, with an icon-heavy approach designed to work as well with touchscreen inputs as a traditional mouse.
This means that the Windows 8 found on forthcoming tablets will be much the same as that found on laptops and desktop PCs. Even the next iteration of Windows Phone - unsurprisingly dubbed Windows Phone 8 - will share the same code base.
It's a bold approach alright, and it stands in complete opposition to Apple's thus far immensely successful way of doing things - namely one OS for computers and another for mobile devices.
Windows 8 will be available as a downloadable update for all Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 users for just $40 - a dramatic reduction in cost when compared to previous Windows versions, and one that's almost certainly been influenced by Apple's similar move with OS X Lion.
This low price for Windows 8 won't last though, as it's only good until January 31 2013. On the plus side, the offer will snag you Windows 8 Pro, which will give you the OS with all the trimmings.
October 26 will also see a handful of new PCs and laptops launched with the Windows 8 OS pre-installed. We'll bring you more news of those as we get it.