NEW YORK — For a company that has launched products with help from the Rolling Stones, Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney and Jay Leno, Microsoft's unveiling of Windows 8 Thursday was subdued.
Windows 8 is Microsoft's radical reimagining of its ubiquitous operating system. A big difference from past Windows releases is that it's designed from the ground up to work on touch-enabled PCs and tablet computers. Microsoft also is making a tablet computer, the Surface, the company's first general-purpose computer. Surface and Windows 8 go on sale Friday.
For the event, Microsoft dressed up a cavernous former bus depot on a floating pier jutting from Manhattan into the Hudson River. Siding shielded the 500 reporters and other guests from the sight of a ruined pier to the south.
Microsoft executives introduced Windows 8 desktops, laptops and tablet computers made by AsusTek Computer Inc., Dell Inc., Samsung Electronics Co. and others.
Instead of raising expectations, Microsoft Corp. worked to reset them. In recent days, some reviewers panned Microsoft's Surface tablet. Others criticized the dearth of apps in the new online Windows Store, where customers can buy apps that will work on the current model of the Surface and other devices that use the streamlined version of the new operating system, called Windows RT.
“The Windows Store has more apps than any competing app store had at its opening,” said Steven Sinofsky, president of Windows and Windows Live. “Your PC experience only improves over time.”
Microsoft executives said 1 billion people are using Windows.
It comes in several versions
• Windows 8 — runs on computers with processing chips made by Intel Corp. or Advanced Micro Devices Inc. A basic version is for consumers and a Pro version is for more tech-savvy users and businesses.
• Windows RT — will run on lower-energy chips in phones and tablets, and some devices that marry tablet and PC features. RT devices will be restricted to applications designed for the system.
• Windows Phone 8 — won't be available until later this fall. Nokia Corp. and Samsung Electronics Co. will offer new Windows phones.
How to get Windows 8
• Buy a new PC — desktop, laptop and tablet computers with Windows 8 installed go on sale Friday.
• Upgrade your PC — Windows 7 PCs (other than the Starter Edition) bought since June 2 can get Windows 8 Pro for $14.99. Windows PCs bought before June 2 can be upgraded for $39.99. A DVD to do the upgrade will cost $69.99.
Will it work on your PC?
• System requirements can be found here: http://
• An upgrade tool at Windows.