What's new in Windows 8?The smart touch-ready Metro interface, now called Modern UI, with “live tiles” that auto-update with information. Great on tablets, but not on PCs without touch. Then there's Windows To Go, which fits your work environment and files securely on a bootable flash drive; Windows Store, which stocks Metro-style apps; Microsoft Live ID sign-in, which lets you back up your data and photos to SkyDrive and configures email; and lots more.
What will it cost in India?For Rs 699, you can upgrade to Win 8 Pro from any version of Win 7 on a PC bought between June 2012 and Jan 2013 (except for Win 7 Starter). All other Win 7 users or users of Win XP or Vista can download the Win 8 Pro upgrade for $40 (even in India), or buy it as a retail package for about $70. (All upgrades available w.e.f. October 26.)
Is Windows 8 a really big deal?Win 8 changes how you use a touch-screen PC. Or a tablet, which becomes a desktop convertible that runs all Windows apps. On a regular PC or laptop, you'll see the change, but you may not like it. Overall, it's a big change.
Will Win 8 change the world?No, but it will bring touch screens into laptops and desktops. Expect a range of touch-enabled PCs and hybrid devices (with fold-away or detachable keyboards) in 2013.
Will it push PC sales up?Unlikely. I don't see people buying PCs just because of Win 8. On a regular PC, it's not that radical. New touch-screen PCs might get some consumers to upgrade, though. But business users are likely to stick to Win 7 even on PCs bought in 2013.
Should I upgrade to Win 8?Probably not on your current PC, if you're running Win 7. Win 8 really makes sense when buying a new, touch-screen PC, or if you already use a touch-PC or tablet running Win 7. But an OS upgrade is a good opportunity to clean up and refresh your PC – if you have 2 GB or more RAM. Note that Win 7 remains a good option in such a case.
What can I run Windows 8 on?All new and current Intel/AMD PCs, and your old PC as long as it has a 1 GHz or better processor and 1 GB (2 GB is better) of memory, and 20 GB (50 GB is better) of free disk space. Win 8 runs comfortably on MacBook Pro and Air notebooks. And on Intel-based tablets like the Samsung Slate 7 (ARM-based tablets run Windows RT).
Which version do I need?For most consumers, the standard Win 8. On a new PC (Core 2 Duo and above), you'll probably get the 64-bit version (except for netbooks). On an older PC, if you have 2 GB or less of memory, or if you're upgrading from XP, stick to 32 bits. Power users and those with 4 GB or more of RAM need the 64-bit version. Then there's Win 8 Pro, for business users: it adds domain support, virtual hard disk bootup, and other pro features. Strangely, only Win 8 Pro lets you add Windows Media Center, free. Win 8 Enterprise adds IT organization features to Pro. And finally, there's Win RT, for ARM tablets.
What is Windows RT?Win RT is a stripped-down Windows, pre-installed on tablets with ARM (not Intel/AMD) processors. RT bundles Office (sans Outlook) and other apps (more are available from Windows Store). RT will not run regular Windows (such as Outlook, Photoshop etc) other than what's bundled with it or on the Windows Store. Think of Win RT as an iOS for the Windows world, though RT does not have iOS's universe of apps.
(More Win 8 questions? Leave a comment here, or write to me email@example.com, or send me a message on Twitter at @prasanto