There are two versions to choose from: Windows 8, and Windows 8 Pro. Windows 8 comes with everything you need to connect, share, work, and play - even for power users. Windows 8 Pro adds enhanced features for people who need to easily connect to company networks, access remote files, encrypt sensitive data, and other more advanced tasks.
A whole new family of desktops, laptops, tablets and other devices - many with touchscreen capabilities - come pre-loaded with Windows 8. In general they're faster and more energy-efficient than previous models and the portable and ultraportable devices are thinner and lighter, with better performance and battery life.
Yes. Your upgrade experience will depend on what version of Windows you currently have. For example, if your PC is running Windows 7 Home Basic or Home Premium, your files, programs and settings will easily transfer to Windows 8. If your PC is running Windows 7 Professional or Ultimate, Windows XP or Windows Vista, you'll need to reinstall your programs. Some features (like those that support touchscreen) may require a new PC.
To find out if your PC is ready for Windows 8, simply go to www.windows.com/upgradeassistant and download Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant, which will provide you with a full compatibility report.
Windows 8 generally works with the same peripheral devices and apps that work with Windows 7. In some cases, a device or program might require an update, or you might need to uninstall some apps, and then reinstall them after you upgrade to Windows 8.
The best way to tell if your apps and devices will work before you upgrade is to run Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant, a free program that scans your current hardware, apps, and devices for compatibility. Make sure all the devices that you need to work with your PC, like printers and monitors, are connected to your PC and turned on before you run Upgrade Assistant.
After Upgrade Assistant scans your PC to determine what's compatible, it provides a compatibility report that lists any issues that you might need to address when you upgrade. You can save or print this report to use later.
If you'd like to look up compatibility info for a specific device or program, you can search for it in the Windows
You can upgrade to Windows 8 from Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows 8 Release Preview, Windows 8 Consumer Preview, or Windows Developer Preview, but you might not be able to keep all of your files, apps, and settings. The following table shows what you can keep during an upgrade, depending on the version of Windows you currently have running on your PC:
What you can keep
Windows 8 Release Preview
Windows 8 Consumer Preview Windows Developer Preview
Nothing (but your files will be saved in the Windows.old folder)
Apps, settings, and personal files
Windows settings and personal files
Important: If you choose to boot from removable media created during the download process, you won't be able to keep your apps, Windows settings, or personal files when you upgrade.
If your PC has a 64 bit-capable processor (CPU) but is currently running a 32-bit version of Windows, you can install a 64-bit version of Windows 8, but you cannot do this as an online upgrade. You'll need to download the Upgrade Assistant to a DVD or a bootable USB device and install Windows 8 from there. You also won't be able to keep any files, settings, or apps when you upgrade from a 32-bit to a 64-bit version.
You can upgrade online or using a DVD that you purchase from participating retails stores to upgrade a PC running Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows Developer Preview, Windows 8 Consumer Preview, or Windows 8 Release Preview. If you want to upgrade from an earlier Windows operating system than Windows XP (for example, Windows 95 or Windows 2000), you'll need to purchase the Windows 8 System Builder from your nearest system builder or participating retailer. You won't be able to keep any files, settings, or apps when you install the new operating system.
If you're running Windows Developer Preview or Windows 8 Consumer Preview when you upgrade, or if you choose the option to "keep nothing" when you upgrade, your files won't come with you to Windows 8. However, you might still be able to copy your files over after you upgrade. If you don't reformat your hard drive during installation, your files are saved to the Windows.old folder, where you can retrieve them after the upgrade.
Not exactly. To go back to your previous version of Windows, you'll need to format your hard drive and then reinstall the previous version of Windows from the recovery or installation media that came with your PC. Typically, this is on a DVD.
If you don't have recovery media, you might be able to create it from a recovery partition on your PC using software provided by your PC manufacturer. Check the support section of your PC manufacturer's website for more info. After you install Windows 8, you won't be able to use the recovery partition on your PC to go back to your previous version of Windows.
The easiest way to change your language is to upgrade to the same language you currently have on your PC, keep your apps, settings, and files, and then add a new language afterwards. If you switch from one language to another during the upgrade, you won't be able to keep your apps or settings.
The Windows Store is where you can find apps for your Windows 8 device. It's got something for everyone, and it's built right into Windows 8, so it's fast and easy to use. Just tap or click the Store tile to get started.
Yes. Your Microsoft account lets you buy and install your apps on up to five devices from a single account. Signing up is easy. Tap or click Store > Settings > Your Account > Sign in > Sign up for a Microsoft account.
Apps and programs are the same thing in Windows 8: software that runs on your PC. Windows 8 apps you download from the Windows Store will run on your Windows 8 PC or tablet. All apps in the Windows Store are screened and check for viruses and are compatible with Windows 8. And many apps created for Windows 8 are designed to work together - so the more you download, the more you can do.
You can install any of the apps you bought from the Microsoft Store on up to five PCs or tablets running Windows 8. To install your apps on other devices, just open the Microsoft Store on the device you want to add the app to, sign in, and tap or click Your apps - then choose the app and tap or click Install.