Microsoft just made the global availability of Windows 8 operating system, that will be available for download to upgrade existing PCs in more than 140 markets and 37 languages beginning at 12:01 a.m. local time and at retail locations around the world.
Steven Sinofsky, president of Microsoft's Windows and Windows Live division, said that the company's new operating system went through 1,240,000,000 hours of testing in public in 190 countries. "No product anywhere receives this kind of testing anywhere in the world," he added.
"As a result of close work with hardware partners, more than 1,000 certified PCs and tablets, including Microsoft Surface, will be available for the launch of Windows 8 -- making it the best lineup of PCs ever across the Windows 8 and Windows RT ecosystem," he said.
Also, launched today is the Windows Store, which is now available in 231 markets. The Store will feature both apps for the new Windows 8 user interface, as well as links to existing desktop apps.
Sinofsky also noted, that Microsoft has now sold more than 670 million Windows 7 licenses. And, sais according to the company's own data, it's the "fastest adoption of any OS ever."
Windows 7, was "the first release of Windows to build on cloud services as a major part of the operating system," he said, adding, today, "SkyDrive users store more than 11 billion photos on the service and over 550 million documents and they add 2 petabytes of additional files every month."
Also, beginning October 26, consumers and businesses worldwide will be able to experience the all new Microsoft Surface.
At retail, Windows 8 will be available in two primary versions -- Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro -- as well as Windows 8 Enterprise for large organizations.
Also, available now is the new Windows RT -- which is designed for ARM-based tablets and available pre-installed on new devices.
In addition to Microsoft Office 2013, Windows RT is designed exclusively for apps in the new Windows Store.
Windows 8 features the new fast and fluid Start screen that gives people one-click access to the apps and content they care most about. It also features an entirely new Internet Explorer 10 that is perfect for touch, and built-in cloud capabilities with SkyDrive.
In addition to new Windows 8-based devices, consumers can also upgrade their existing XP, Vista or Windows 7 PCs to Windows 8 Pro for an estimated retail price of US$39.99 through the end of January 2013.
And, those who purchase eligible Windows 7 PCs between June 2, 2012, and Jan. 31, 2013, in 140+ markets can upgrade to Windows 8 Pro for an estimated retail price of US$14.99 with the Windows Upgrade Offer, at http://www.windowsupgradeoffer.com.
Microsoft Surface, now available for purchase at all Microsoft retail, holiday and online stores in the United States and Canada -- with a starting price of US$499.
A variety of Surface accessories are also available for purchase, including Touch Covers in five vibrant colors -- black, white, magenta, cyan and red -- priced at US$119.99, so customers can express their personal style.
Customers also have the option to purchase a Type Cover in black for US$129.99, which adds moving keys for a more traditional typing feel.
Check out some photos of Surface on Time Square, NYC, and the new Surface ad: