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Updated: Windows 8 release date and price: all the latest details

Updated: Windows 8 release date and price: all the latest details

Microsoft has revealed the Windows 8 release date is 26 October 26 - that's Friday!

The Windows 8 release date - known as Windows 8 General Availability, or GA - is in line with the Autumn 2012/Fall 2012 release date we were expecting - indeed, we had thought it would be launched the day before, on October 25.

However, we have been playing with the new operating system for a little while - make sure you check out our in depth Windows 8 review.

Microsoft will offer only three versions, two for Intel-based PCs (Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro) and Windows 8 RT for ARM-based tablets like the Microsoft Surface. The new OS offers both a traditional desktop interface and the Metro-style touch-friendly UI.

Windows 8 price

Microsoft is offering Windows 8 upgrades priced at just $39.99USD/£24.99 for anyone using an existing product. The offer will be open until January 31 and after that the OS will cost a higher price.

If you're currently running Windows 7, Windows Vista or Windows XP on your PC or laptop you'll qualify for a downloadable copy of the top-level Windows 8 Pro for the knockdown price. You will also get Media Center as an additional free download.

A Windows 8 upgrade assistant wizard will walk you through the process. Microsoft says the upgrade process as easy as possible and will also extend to buying a physical disc in store, although that option will cost $69.99/£49.99.

New Windows 8 and Windows RT PCs will be available to buy and upgrades will also be available starting in October - Microsoft Surface will also be released on 26 October. Windows 8 will be available in 109 languages across 231 markets worldwide.

Windows 8 upgrades

A post on the Windows 8 blog explains which files and settings users will be able to bring with them, depending on the pervious version of the OS in question.

"It will ask you what you want to keep from your current Windows installation," the post reads.

"You will be able to upgrade from any consumer edition of Windows 7 to Windows 8 Pro and bring everything along which includes your Windows settings, personal files, and apps.

"If you are upgrading from Windows Vista, you will be able to bring along your Windows settings and personal files, and if you are upgrading from Windows XP you will only be able to bring along your personal files. Of course, if you want to start fresh, you can choose to bring nothing along."

Windows 8 release date announcement

The announcement of the October date came during the main keynote at Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference 2012. Windows chief marketing officer Tami Reller stated the Windows 8 release date was set for "late October". Windows President Steven Sinofsky subsequently made the official date announcement at Microsoft's annual sales meeting.

RTM took place in August; that means release to manufacturing, essentially the date at which the bods at Microsoft shout "it's finished", the code goes gold and it gets sent to the disc pressing plants.

That long-awaited operating system will be available in all of the major territories as a downloadable upgrade or to buy in store on that launch date, a mere 14 weeks away.

Reller also revealed Microsoft has sold 630 million Windows 7 licenses to date - 30 million extra sales over the company's previous announcement in June.

Google filling in 25 million brand-new building footprints in Maps

Google filling in 25 million brand-new building footprints in Maps

Google rolled out an initiative to fill in the blanks on its Maps app, one that should help even the most directionally challenged navigate where they need to go.

The move will see 25 million new building footprints join the service on both desktop and mobile for major metropolitan areas across the U.S.

Those regions include Houston, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami and the San Francisco Bay Area.

"This expansion is part of our ongoing effort to provide you with maps that are as comprehensive as possible," the announcement on the Google Lat Long blog said.

Fill 'em in

Buildings, the blog said, provide helpful orientation as local landmarks, and Google's even included height detail in the structure outlines.

The new footprints are "algorithmically created by taking aerial imagery and using computer vision techniques to render building shapes."

Google Maps building footprints

Users can contribute to areas they are familiar with through the Google Map Maker, insuring building footprints are accurate and up-to-date, the post said.

Google has also offered the option of assigning "your favorite local business to an existing building" or by drawing the footprint for that business via the Map Maker.

Even if the change seems relatively minor, it still puts Google's maps service leagues above Apple's dismal, though improving, native maps outing.

1&1 adds web apps for ecommerce and social

1&1 adds web apps for ecommerce and social

Web host 1&1 Internet has launched a free suite of off-the-peg web applications available for use within its MyWebsite package.

The 100 new web apps include apps for eCommerce that integrate with Amazon, PayPal, and eBay to help businesses create sophisticated one-stop shops with just a few clicks of the mouse. For example, within a few clicks, a restaurant can now integrate a table booking application for its customers to use, without having to pay any additional costs and without any developer help.

In addition to the ecommerce apps 1&1 MyWebsite now also offers a range of communication and social media applications such as Skype and Calendar Wiz, Google+1, LinkedIn and Pinterest as well as productivity apps like Slideshare, Website Translator and Statistics Summary.

The Web Apps are integrated within a MyWebsite, and remove the need for website visitors to be diverted away to external URLs.

The apps are also localised for each country, so if you are selling to Europe and beyond your customers will see the most relevant app to their country. For example, UK restaurant customers are offered Open Table and Yelp Reviews Web apps, whilst hoteliers can incorporate reviews from Trip Advisor and photo streams from Flickr.

Available from £9.99/month+VAT, the new apps are available now.

Open Thread: iPad mini: What do you want to see?

Open Thread: iPad mini: What do you want to see?

The iPad mini release is nearly upon us – but what does Apple need to do to make a smaller tablet a success?

We all remember Steve Jobs' claim that a 7-inch wouldn't work (although it appears his opinion may have changed over time, given an email during the Samsung trial that showed he was receptive to the format) there are some that never thought we'd see the day when an iPad mini launch was in the offing.

But with Google Nexus 7 and the Amazon Kindle Fire HD coming for a rock-bottom price with some pretty impressive specs, Apple has got its work cut out to match the budget level with the iPad mini price.

It's up to you

Enough about the negatives though – let's throw the floor open to you guys: what are the iPad mini features that are must have on the new device?

Should it be packing NFC? A Retina display? 128GB of storage for all the HD films you want to watch? Or does it only need 32GB?

We'll be bringing you our in-depth findings with our hands on: iPad mini review in the coming days (unless Apple has sold us a dummy and there's no such thing as a smaller iPad) so until then let us know what you think in the comments below.

Sony wants to keep cumbersome '4K Ultra High Definition' name

Sony wants to keep cumbersome '4K Ultra High Definition' name

Sony is continuing its long-held trend of picking different names for industry-wide products by sticking with the 4K Ultra High Definition name as the successor to High Definition.

This company's announcement came one day after the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) chose to rename 4K screens "Ultra High Definition.

The CEA, in addition to picking the simpler marketing moniker, made it a rule for UHD to have a 3840 x 2160 pixels minimum resolution, and at least one digital input cable that can deliver a 4K signal and display 4K natively.

Sony isn't sounding off on these minimum specs, just the limiting nature of the new name.

Sony's many reasons

"As a leader at the forefront of new display technology such as HD, 3D and beyond," Sony began in a statement to The Verge, not sounding smug at all, "Sony lauds the CEA's efforts to come up with a common language to describe the next generation high-definition technology."

After the compliment, the company explained why it has disjoined the naming consensus.

"However, to ensure clarity for consumers and delineate between today's and tomorrow's technology, Sony will continue to use the 4K moniker for its products and will market its future products as 4K ultra high-definition (4K UHD)."

There's another reason Sony could be arguing to keep 4K in the name: the company is expected to announce PS3's successor next year, the PlayStation 4.

The name PS4K would be catchy, and Sony has used its PlayStation brand to push its home theater products before.

From Blu-ray to Betamax

Sony has a history of offering the same or very similar products with its own brand of names.

Blu-ray is the most recent example, which rivaled Toshiba's HD-DVD. Sony eventually triumphed with its version of the high-definition successor to the DVD format thanks to PS3.

Not as popular was i.LINK, Sony's take on the IEEE 1394 interface, better known as FireWire, to Apple owners. Interestingly, Apple would dominate the iDevice name years later.

The company also saw limited success with its never-universally-compatible Memory Stick format, as SD memory cards dominated the camera scene.

As of 2010, new Sony cameras have started accepting SD cards.

Sony's determination to be different dates back to Betamax, the 1970s rival to VHS, another fight that saw the company on the losing end of a format war.


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