CEO Steve Ballmer's Microsoft might be best known for its hugely successful push into gaming with the XBOX 360.

Start Me Up?!

Microsoft has confirmed that its much anticipated (though far less downloaded) nextgen version of Windows will launch this October.

Though no specific dates was given, Windows 8 will begin shipping in October to consumers who pay $14.99 (those on Win 7 computers bought this year) or $39.99 (those upgrading from 7/Vista/XP on existing computer) for an upgrade. In addition the OS will quickly finds its way on to new ultrabooks from the usual roster of partners including Dell, HP, Samsung and Asus. These prices are substantially less than what Microsoft has charged in the past, suggesting that competition — mainly from Google and Apple — in addition to the rise of the cloud which allows consumers to run apps without installing them on a local hard drive, is forcing its hand.

In addition, Windows Phone 8 is expected to launch within the same time frame.

The really big news out of Redmond this fall, though, relates to Surface, Microsoft’s tablet push.

Running Windows 8, the Surface RT and Surface Pro are designed to offer a desktop-like computing experience will also hit the market about the same time. The tile-based Metro user interface provides a touch-friendly interface, and with the Pro version, underneath lies a full-blown version of Windows capable of running software such as Office, and other traditional desktop applications.

Start Me Up… again?!

Not really.

Preview releases of Windows reveal a markedly revised user interface. Gone — sorry Rolling Stones fans — is the famous Start menu/icon in the lower left. In its place is a variety of screen swipes, sideclicks that aren’t exactly winning fans among early testers.

Soon enough, we should have the big answer to 2012:

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Will Windows 8 save Microsoft?