When did Windows 8 come out? What is Windows 8 RT? Windows 8 is a major release of the Windows NT operating system developed by Microsoft. It was released to manufacturing on August 1, 2012, and was made available for download via MSDN and TechNet on August 15, 2012. Nearly three months after its initial release, Windows 8 finally made its first retail appearance on October 26, 2012.
Windows 8 introduced major changes to the operating system’s platform and user interface with the intention to improve its user experience on tablets, where Windows competed with mobile operating systems such as Android and iOS. In particular, these changes included a touch-optimized Windows shell and start screen based on Microsoft’s Metro design language, integration with online services, the Windows Store, and a new keyboard shortcut for screenshots.
Many of these features were adapted from Windows Phone. Windows 8 also added support for USB 3.0, Advanced Format, near-field communication, and cloud computing. Additional security features – including built-in antivirus software, integration with Microsoft SmartScreen phishing filtering, and support for Secure Boot on supported devices – were introduced. Windows 8 is the first version of Windows to support the ARM architecture under the Windows RT branding. No CPUs without PAE, SSE2 and NX are supported in this version.
When did Windows 8 come out?
The official release date to the general public for Windows 8 was October 26, 2012. It was released to manufacturing (given to hardware companies to install in their products) on August 1, 2012. Development of Windows 8 commenced before its predecessor, Windows 7, was released to the general public on October 22, 2009.
Windows 8 and its functionality were first detailed at the Consumers Electronic Show (CES) 2011 in Las Vegas. Though the actual interface was not demonstrated, Microsoft’s President of Windows Steven Sinofsky told the crowd that the newest version of Windows would be capable of running architectures that only Windows Embedded was previous capable of running. One of those architectures is Windows CE, the system that operates Windows Phone 7. Thus the cat was let out of the bag about the potential of touch screens and other tablet and smartphone-like features being incorporated into Windows 8.
Windows 8, as of September 2013, holds an 8.2 percent market share, but the company expects that number to surpass 10 percent by the end of 2013. Windows 8.1, the first major update for the operating system, was released to the public on October 17, 2013. Customers with an existing copy of Windows 8 can download the update free of charge.
How do I get Windows 8?
Most new laptops will come with Windows 8 pre-installed unless you specifically request otherwise. Microsoft will stop supporting Windows XP as of April 2014, so if you are still running that version of Windows, you should upgrade as soon as possible.
College students with an “.edu” email address can purchase Windows 8.1 Pro directly from the Microsoft online store at a deep discount (with the total price being around $70). Otherwise, it costs about $120 for Windows 8.1 and $200 for 8.1 Pro. You can also order a boxed copy with all the backup discs. If you already have Windows 8, you can upgrade to Windows 8.1 for free via Microsoft’s website.
Another option is to download a copy of Windows 8.1 Enterprise. It is basically a free 90-day trial of the program designed mostly for developers to test out the OS before buying. After 90 days, your system will shut down every 60 minutes until you upgrade to the full, paid version of the OS.
Lastly, you can always find a free full version online. But keep in mind Microsoft will not offer support for pirated versions and some will come with malware pre-installed. You will also need a product key for the OS to function.
What is Windows 8 RT?
Windows 8 RT is a version of Windows 8 specifically designed for tablets and other mobile devices. Microsoft said the original aim for Windows 8 RT was to create a turnkey environment that offers some of the flexibility of Windows. It is an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) only platform, meaning it is not sold separately in stores or online. It comes pre-installed in many notebooks and is the operating system for Microsoft’s Surface Tablet.
More specifically, Windows 8 RT is the operating system for devices that use 32-bit ARM architecture, a group of instructions named after the British company that created it. The overall strategy of ARM architecture centers around simple instructions that are easy to execute, which results in faster performance in the device.
Windows 8 RT can be used with system-on-a-chip (SoC) designs, which stuffs every computer component into one chip. This allows Window 8 RT to work in thinner devices and provides longer battery life because of its efficiency. Windows 8 RT should not be confused with Windows Phone 8 Operating System. The previous is not designed to be used on smartphones.
Windows 8 RT was announced at the Consumer Electronics Show 2011 in Las Vegas and released to the public on October 26, 2012.
Windows 8 Hardware Limitations
32-bit versions of Windows 8 support up to 4 GB of RAM. The 64-bit version of Windows 8 Pro supports up to 512 GB, while the 64-bit version of Windows 8 (standard) supports up to 128 GB.
Windows 8 Pro supports a maximum of 2 physical CPUs, and the standard version of Windows 8 just one. In total, up to 32 logical processors are supported in 32-bit versions of Windows 8, while up to 256 logical processors are supported in 64-bit versions.
No hardware limitations were changed in the Windows 8.1 update.
Background on Windows Operating Systems
Before we delve into the specifics of Windows 8, let’s take a brief look at the background of Windows operating systems. Microsoft’s journey in the operating system market began with the release of Windows 1.0 in 1985. This initial version provided a graphical user interface (GUI) that made computing more accessible to the masses.
Over the years, Microsoft continued to improve its operating systems, releasing subsequent versions such as Windows 3.0, Windows 95, Windows 98, and Windows ME. These iterations brought significant advancements, including improved multitasking capabilities, better hardware compatibility, and a more polished user interface.
In the early 2000s, Microsoft introduced Windows XP, a highly successful and widely adopted operating system. Windows XP was known for its stability, security features, and enhanced user experience. It remained a popular choice among users for over a decade, even after the release of subsequent Windows versions.
In 2007, Microsoft introduced Windows Vista, which aimed to provide a more visually appealing interface and improved security features. However, Vista faced several performance and compatibility issues, which led to a mixed reception from users and critics alike.
In response to the feedback received, Microsoft developed Windows 7, which was released in 2009. Windows 7 brought a refined user interface, better performance, and enhanced compatibility. It quickly gained popularity and became one of the most widely used operating systems worldwide.
As technology and user expectations continued to evolve, Microsoft recognized the need for a more innovative and touch-centric approach to computing. This realization laid the foundation for the development of Windows 8.
Windows 8 marked a significant departure from its predecessors, with a focus on touch-enabled devices and a new interface called the Start screen. This bold step aimed to cater to the growing popularity of tablets and smartphones while maintaining compatibility with traditional desktop and laptop computers.
With this background in mind, let’s explore the development of Windows 8 in the next section.
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