Main image of article Microsoft's Ballmer Launches Windows 8
Windows 8 Start ScreenWindows 8 is officially released, with Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer touting its potential to grab consumers by weaving different facets of their lives across their computer screens... or mobile screens. He'd better be right. As my colleague Vincent Chow notes, the software giant needs its new OS to jump start its mobile efforts and keep it relevant as PC sales slip. "We have re-imagined Windows and the result is a stunning lineup of new PCs," hyped Ballmer. "Windows 8 brings together the best of the PC and the tablet. It works perfect for work and play and it is alive with your world. Every one of our customers will find a PC that they will absolutely love." Among other things, Windows 8 offers features like a start screen with one-click access to apps and content, Internet Explorer 10 and SkyDrive built-in cloud capabilities. Along with Microsoft's new Surface tablet, it will be available for download Friday. Windows 8 Pro will retail for $39.99 through the end of January for folks running Windows XP, Windows Vista or Windows 7.  Those who purchased a Windows 7 PC between June 2 and Jan. 31, 2013, will be able to upgrade for $14.99. Surface, meanwhile, will be for sale in the U.S. and Canada starting Friday. Prices will start $499 for a 32GB WiFi version. With Apple recently unveiling its fourth-generation iPad and the iPad mini, as well as the iPhone 5 and iOS 6.