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TheStreet Open House

Windows 8: Now It's Official

NEW YORK (TheStreet) - Microsoft (MSFT) threw a big party on a Hudson River pier on Thursday to officially launch the Windows 8 operating system - and its new Surface tablets.

The morning session was devoted to the new operating systems. Super-excited product managers, along with a somewhat subdued CEO Steve Ballmer spent lots of time extolling each and every feature of the new operating systems - the full version of Windows 8 for Intel (INTC) processors, as well as the more basic Windows RT for ARM (ARMH)-based processors.

They spent their time reassuring the worldwide audience, along with individual and enterprise users worldwide that Windows 8 will be a great addition to current Windows 7 devices, as well as new touchscreen hardware from a large array of manufacturers.

In official Microsoft public relations speak:

"Starting today, Windows 8 will be available for consumers in more than 140 markets and 37 languages in two primary versions--Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro, as well as Windows 8 Enterprise for large organizations. Also available today is a new member of the Windows family --Windows RT, including including Surface for Windows RT. Designed for ARM-based tablets, Windows RT will be available pre-installed on new devices."

A Windows 8 upgrade will cost you $40 unless you've recently purchased a Windows 7 computer, in which case the upgrade is $15. Windows RT only comes pre-installed on the proper new hardware. You can see all the new available hardware on Microsoft's Windows site and at special new Windows pop-up stores opening tomorrow all across the country.

Microsoft also formally announced the Windows Store - its official repository for downloading new Windows 8 and Windows RT apps. It's actually the only place to get Windows RT ads.

The afternoon session was strictly a Surface pep talk for the press. All the manufacturers in attendance were invited to a luncheon at another location.

We got to hear, in great detail, about how terrific the new Surface RT tablets are. How Microsoft employees worked long hours to make every detail of the devices - and the optional snap-on keyboards - beautiful, durable and user friendly. They were actually quite convincing. They even promised a few female attendees sitting on the aisle free tablets to reinforce their points.

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