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Stocks in this article: GESBUX

The Associated Press

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Early look at Windows 8 baffles consumers

NEW YORK (AP) â¿¿ The release of Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system is a week away, and consumers are in for a shock. Windows, used in one form or another for a generation, is getting a completely different look that will force users to learn new ways to get things done.

Microsoft is making a radical break with the past to stay relevant in a world where smartphones and tablets have eroded the three-decade dominance of the personal computer. Windows 8 is supposed to tie together Microsoft's PC, tablet and phone software with one look. But judging by the reactions of some people who have tried the PC version, it's a move that risks confusing and alienating customers.

Tony Roos, an American missionary in Paris, installed a free preview version of Windows 8 on his aging laptop to see if Microsoft's new operating system would make the PC faster and more responsive. It didn't, he said, and he quickly learned that working with the new software requires tossing out a lot of what he knows about Windows.

"It was very difficult to get used to," he said. "I have an 8-year-old and a 10-year-old, and they never got used to it. They were like, 'We're just going to use Mom's computer.'"

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Jobless rate falls in most battleground states

CLEVELAND (AP) â¿¿ Unemployment rates fell last month in nearly all of the battleground states that may determine the presidential winner, giving President Barack Obama fresh fodder to argue that voters should stick with him in an election focused squarely on the economy.

The declines, however, were modest. It's unclear whether they will do much to sway undecided voters who are considering whether to back Republican Mitt Romney or give the Democratic president four more years.

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