With Windows 8 upgrades, new Windows 8 PCs and Windows 8 tablets having been released at the end of October 2012, the operating system has now been in stores for quite a while.
Here is our definitive verdict on the full, finished Windows 8 operating system. One thing’s worth stating first – we’re weeks away from Windows 8.1 being released. This takes many of the disappointing aspects of Windows 8 and re-engineers them. In short, the blunt instrument has been sharpened somewhat. Check out our Hands on: Windows 8.1 review for our thoughts.
As well as including the traditional desktop, Windows 8 also ushers in a new Start Screen. This works in the same way as the old Start Menu, although it opens full screen and is also a place you can launch and use new Windows 8-style apps – essentially full-screen, tablet-style apps.
Windows 8 hasn’t done fantastically well in terms of public reception – even leading some at Microsoft to say that the company’s “Start Screen first” mentality was wide of the mark. Sales of the software also struggled at first, but after 90 days, Microsoft indicated it has shifted enough licenses to equal that of Windows 7.
More than 100 million Windows 8 licenses have now been sold by Microsoft.
Windows 8 represents a fundamental shift in the way Windows works and is far more touchscreen-orientated for use on tablets as well as traditional PCs. If you’re completely new to Windows 8 and haven’t used a preview version, we’d recommend you check out our guide to the new features you’ll find in Windows 8 vs Windows 7 and Windows 8: what you’ll need to relearn. We’ve also got all the Windows 8 tips you could possibly need.
The first thing you should know about Windows 8 is the versions available – we have more guidance on that here: Windows 8 versions: which is right for you?.
Essentially the key information is that there are two Windows 8 versions available to buy – Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro. Usually you’ll find Windows 8 Pro more commonly available.
With the final version plus various updates since, the integrated Windows 8-style apps are now far, far better than they were originally. Even the previously disappointing apps such as Mail, Calendar, Messaging and People are sleek and far more functional. More updates are on the way, notably with Windows 8.1, due over the coming months