Speaking yesterday (July 18) at a Microsoft sales meeting, Windows president Steven Sinofsky announced the date that customers will be able to buy new Windows 8 PCs or upgrade eligible existing machines.
Earlier this month at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, Windows CFO Tami Reller told attendees that Windows 8 would be available in October, but now a confirmed date of October 26 has been announced.
New PCs and laptops released after October will come with either Windows 8, or Windows RT for ARM-based machines.
Owners of compatible older PCs and laptops will be able to upgrade their kit to Windows 8 for a cheap introductory price, Microsoft has announced.
The company intends to offer free cloud storage via its SkyDrive system to every Windows 8 buyer.
Windows 8, which will be available in 109 languages across 231 markets worldwide, is Microsoft's first operating system optimised for traditional computing equipment and new touchscreen devices, via its Metro user interface.
Alongside PCs and laptops, Microsoft has also designed Windows 8 for a new generation of tablet devices, including its own Surface line of hardware.
> Samsung Windows 8 tablet rumoured for October
In early August, Microsoft intends to turn on its new commerce platform so that developers can start earning money from their apps created for the Windows Store.
During the Windows 8 release preview launched earlier in the year, all apps on the store have been free for people to try out.
Windows 7 was offered in both boxed and download forms, and it is expected that Windows 8 will follow this pattern.
The new software will hope to emulate the success of Windows 7, which is the best-selling operating system in history, shifting 630 million licences to date and running on more than half the enterprise desktops in the world.
Microsoft has also announced its new Microsoft Office 2013 software featuring Skype and Yammer integration, along with a subscription-based iteration of Office 365.