Today Microsoft is launching its latest baby, Windows 8, to the world from a special event held in New York. I’ll be bringing you up to speed with all the reveals and possibly even some new details, if there are any left. Make sure you stay here on NAG Online and keeping hitting that F5 button!

And I have to add that, as a long-time Windows user, gamer and computer enthusiast, I was one of the largest supporters of sticking to Windows 7 after I first heard about 8. While your mileage may vary, I’ve certainly found that this is better, for me, than Windows 7. And you really should give it a try, learn how Modern UI changes the way you do things for the better and see for yourself why its better. It may not be better when it comes to outright performance, but the way it approaches connectivity, the cloud and social networks isn’t anything I was ready for.

In fact, its everything I’ve been waiting for. But this is more than just a software launch. Its a services and hardware launch, a sign of a change in the course that Microsoft is steering itself along and a change of how the industry works and operates. There’s no going back now.

18:17 And that’s a wrap, thanks for joining me! For those interested to see Microsoft’s Surface tablet, you can check out the live feed for that launch over here, which starts in just over an hour’s time.

18:14 “With Windows 8, I’ve come to love this term we use in our advertising, ‘Windows Reimagined’. And I encourage each and every one of you to go out and see for yourself why we believe this is the best fit for Windows users and for everyone else. Touching, swiping, seeing and feeling is believing with this OS, and we couldn’t be happier to show it to the world. Welcome to the new era of computers. Welcome to Windows 8!”

18:11 “There’s very few ecosystems or platforms that can offer the same kind of inter-connectivity as Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8. We’ve never has the two platforms come together as close as these two products have and we’re excited to see how having the same user interface, apps and services on every computing device you own. It doesn’t get any better or simpler than this.”

18:09 If you’re streaming a movie from your tablet to the TV, your tablet’s screen gains some movie controls and also shows off some information on the media you’re watching to allow you to quickly look at things relevant to what you’re watching.

18:08 Ballmer mentions the redesign for MSN.com and Hotmail and talks about how websites will change their user interface to benefit touch screens and make it easier for tablet users to browse anywhere.

18:06 Indeed, Microsoft is all in with this release and has hinged just about everything on Windows 8 gaining traction and consumer support.

18:04 “With Windows 8 you have the bests of both worlds; the keyboard and touch. It brings together your personal life and work life together. It makes it fun doing work-related stuff…and makes it particularly exciting to do nothing of that sort. “

18:01 “The PC was always personal, but Windows 8 brings that to a whole new level and integrates seamlessly with your life and work and you’ll wonder how you managed without it. All these PCs behind me are alive with software that links you to the world around you and the people that matter.”

18:00 Steve Ballmer takes to the stage to talk about how the PC has changed over time for Microsoft and its customers.

17:58 Before they leave the stage, Microsoft’s Surface makes and appearance. Will it change the world? We’ll soon see.

17:55 Most of the services and apps you can find on the desktop and laptop in the Windows store, can be found, installed and run off an ARM tablet.

17:53 Nameless Michael: “The more apps you use and the tighter they are integrated with the charms bar and universal search, the more cohesive the experience gets. From Wikipedia I can search a location, activate the charms bar and search for the same place on Maps, you can then pin it for later viewing.”

17:51 Nameless Michael goes through a small amount of the thousand-plus PCs, tablets and ultraportables that have been certified for Windows 8, as well as demonstrating how the interface scales up to the size of the screen you’re using.

17:48 A Clover Trail tablet! Running Windows 8 Pro, it zooms around the interface really, really quickly. Its the Lenovo Thinkpad 2, with 3G, LTE, connected standby and up to ten hours of better life.

17:44 Nameless Michael shows off how his trackpad on a Lenovo Ultrabook he’s had for a year works just like a touch screen. Swipe from the right edge in launches the charms bar. Swiping from the left in switches through open apps, just like a touch screen. Laptop users have far better ways to interact with the OS than desktop users.

17:43 The Xbox video store allows for rentals for movies, series and there’s a choice of 30 million songs on the music service.

17:40 Julie Andrews and Michael (didn’t catch his name) approach the stage to show how Windows 8 works seamlessly with existing hardware.

17:38 A rather impressive figure is the 420 million devices that are apparently compatible with the WART platform. Sinofsky says that more than 50% of  currently available printers and their drivers are compatible out of the box.

17:36 Now we’re onto the ARM platform and why its so different. It runs a suite of built-in apps that are separate from regular x86 software and apps for WART are only available from the Windows store, rather than the regular methods we’ve installed applications in the past on the desktop.

17:33 Sinofsky: “Windows 8’s app store and development tools are the best and most user-friendly tools we’ve ever designed.”

17:32 Microsoft’s vision was for an OS capable of working on large touch-screened PCs that are boardroom, kitchen and lounge-friendly.

17:31 Every copy of Windows 8 will come with a How-To on-screen manual for new users and those coming from Windows 7 will find that all their shortcuts still work and their programs operate the same way.

17:30 The beta testing that was carried out by the community spanned over a total of ten billion hours of testing. That’s impressive!

17:28: “We’re seeing astonishing speed upgrades. We’re talking 13% more battery life on the same hardware, cold boots of under 10 seconds and faster resumes than we could have imagined than when we started.”

17:27 Today also marks the opening of the Windows Store online across the globe. 45 countries will get the initial roll-out, with 135 countries featuring the store in just under six months from now.

17:26 Sinofsky goes on a bit about the ARM development and how it was all blogged from start to finish. Over 6 million PCs were part of the beta tests across the globe. “No other company’s software gets that kind of real-world beta test.”

17:25 “Today, the role of the PC has changed so much that today, we couldn’t have coped with the kind of tech available back in 1995.”

17:23 Skydrive has over 11 million photos, 550 million documents, with 2.2PB of data added to the service each week.

17:22: Over 660 million Windows 7 licenses sold. More than half of worldwide enterprises have used Windows 7 in their networks.

17:21: Steven Sinofsky takes to the stage. He calls Windows 8 a “new era in computers.”

17:19 The world is ready indeed, Microsoft. There’s a quick launch video to show what customer reaction has been over the last year.

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17:14: Looks like switching from Telkom to the free Afrihost bandwidth given to NAG subscribers did the trick.

17:07: Looks like I spoke too soon, its already messing with me :-/

17:00 The Live Stream is now active on Microsoft’s site, you’ll need Silverlight to view it. I wrote earlier this year that I hate Silverlight and I hope my 1Mb/s line doesn’t give it the chance to mess around with me.

16:58: There’s also a rather large stand at the booth that has been made up to look like…a small city?

16:56: It looks pretty busy!

16:44: While you’re waiting, there’s a small flamewar being carried out by two tech sites: ZDNet’s Ed Bott writes that Windows 8 is merely introducing the same change as Windows XP but will end up being as revolutionary as the ten-year old dinosaur, while Roughly Drafted blogger Daniel Dilger says the opposite, painting 8 in the same light as Windows Vista.

16:41: For those of you who’s like to jump in only when the Keynote by Ballmer begins, you can use this online clock by Time And Date to keep track of when you can come back here. The event starts at 11.15AM EDT time.

16:27: So I’m waiting patiently for the event to start, which should be in the next 30 minutes or so according to my calculations. You can see the Live Keynote for yourself on Microsoft’s Website or you can elect to just stay here with me as I try keep up with everything.

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