Windows 8 logo

Windows 8 went RTM on August 1st, 2012 and was released for general availability on October 26th, 2012. It contained many new features and changes, the most noticeable being a new graphical user interface know as Modern UI. It is available in four major editions, Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro, Windows 8 Enterprise, and Windows 8 RT.

Aside from the new Modern UI, some other notable new features and enhancements included:

  • Support for ARM processors (low power processors found in many mobile devices)
  • Native support for USB 3.0
  • Support for, and in some cases, mandatory inclusion of UEFI SecureBoot
  • New versions of existing Microsft products, including PowerShell v3.0, Internet Explorer 10, Windows Defender, and a redesigned Task Manager
  • A Windows Store for purchasing Windows 8 applications
  • New authentication methods, including local logon with a Windows Live account, picture based password and login via PIN
  • Two new boot options: Hybrid Boot and Windows To Go
  • Client Hyper-V

Minimum hardware requirements for the x86 and x64 of Windows 8 are:

  • 1 GHz processor (with support for PAE, NX SSE2)
  • 1 GB RAM (2GB for x64 versions)
  • A graphics card capable of DirectX 9 and WDDM 1.0
  • 20 GB of disk space
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