Microsoft has launched its new operating system, Windows 8.
At the launch event in New York, Microsoft's CEO Steve Ballmer told attendees that "Windows 8 shatters perceptions of what a PC now really is" and he was not wrong.
At its core, Windows 8 embraces the emergent tablet market. It utilises touch-screen and not just as a supported feature - the entire user interface is designed with touch at its heart. Gone is the traditional desktop, to be replaced by a series of panelled windows that will be familiar to anyone who owns an Xbox. The difference here is that the panels will be customised to link to websites and social networks as well as to applications.
In addition, Microsoft has integrated an app store called Windows Store, which will allow users to purchase and download software in a manner similar to Apple's service.
Almost as a demonstration of this commitment to a changing marketplace, the launch of Windows 8 was followed by that of Microsoft's flagship device for the new operating system, the Surface.
Designed primarily as a showcase, the Surface is a high-end tablet that runs Windows 8 RT - the version that's designed to work with ARM-based processors - and carries a 10.6-inch display with a resolution of 1366x768 and uses a 1.6GHz Nvidia Tegra 3 T30 quad core CPU accompanied by 2GB of RAM. An Intel version is expected to follow.
"We've truly reimagined WIndows and kicked off a new era for Microsoft and a new era for our customers," said Ballmer at the launch.
"You can imagine what you own Windows 8 device will look like and how incredibly personal it will be."