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Microsoft sets Windows 8 launch as Oct. 26

$40 upgrades, new Windows 8-powered PCs will go on sale on a Friday

Microsoft today announced that it will start selling Windows 8 on Friday, Oct. 26, a little more than three months from now.

New PCs equipped with the operating system will go on sale the same day, said Microsoft spokesman Brandon LeBlanc in a post to the company's blog.

Shortly before LeBlanc posted the news, Stephen Sinofsky, president of the Windows and Windows Live division, announced the date at Microsoft's Global eXchange (MGX), an annual internal mass meeting of company executives, salespeople and product managers.

MGX is closed to the public.

The date wasn't a huge surprise: Windows 7 launched on Oct. 22, 2009, the second-to-last Thursday of that month. Several media outlets, including Computerworld had used the Windows 7 date to peg the likely launch of Windows 8 to Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012.

They were all just a day off.

Last week, Microsoft said it would debut Windows 8 in "late October," and that the OS would reach the RTM, or "release to manufacturing," milestone in early August. RTM marks the stage at which Microsoft certifies the software as ready to send to OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) -- the Hewlett-Packards, Dells and Lenovos of the world -- so that they can start installing it on new systems.

The Oct. 26 date is also significant to users now running Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7, as it marks the debut of the $39.99 upgrade to Windows 8. The price is a dramatic discount from other Windows upgrade. All users who upgrade will receive Windows 8 Pro, the more advanced of the two retail editions.

Microsoft has also tied the launch of its Windows RT operating system, and its first-ever tablet, dubbed "Surface," to the debut of Windows 8. It does have some wiggle room, however, for the tablet, because it has said that the device would go on sale around the time of Windows 8's release.

Some facts are still up in the air, most notably the pricing of the Surface tablet powered by Windows RT, whether other OEMs will also launch tablets at the same time, and the price of Windows 8 in a non-upgrade edition, called System Builder. That version will be required for people who assemble their own computers or for some Mac owners who want to run the new OS on their machines.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed. His email address is [email protected].

See more by Gregg Keizer on Computerworld.com.

Read more about windows in Computerworld's Windows Topic Center.

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