Microsoft releases its brand new operating system on Friday - Windows 8. And this time it really is different.
If you haven't been following the long development of Windows' rebirth, well, we can't blame you. But what's clear from the first moment of using Windows 8 is that this really is a total rethink of how computers are supposed to work.
Yes, the traditional desktop is there - if you need it.
But the focus is now squarely on its WIndows Phone-inspired live-tiles and user interface which exists on top, behind and side-by-side the more recognisable Windows view.
Apps live in constantly updating squares and rectangles, and run full screen in beautifully rendered and designed touch-enhanced versions which are more reminiscent of tablets than 'PCs'. And that's no surprise - with its new OS Microsoft is desperate to bridge the gap between mobile and the workstation, by pushing its own Surface tablet hardware (initially running the similar, albit distinct Windows RT) and encouraging manufacturers to make hybrid, touch-powered machines (which they have, in droves).
We'll publish our own thoughts soon - but here's a taste of what reviewers think so far:
Microsoft should be applauded for its brave and single-minded support for a touchscreen future. By pandering to the mouse and keyboard it would have castrated Windows 8’s effectiveness in the years ahead. It begs for manufacturers to build touchscreen devices, and now they must patiently wait for the world to catch up - and pray that it doesn't move on.
The Verge: Microsoft has a hit on its hands
Windows 8 is a beautiful operating system and one that feels incredibly personal once it's customized. Microsoft has a huge fight on its hands now to ensure developers create beautiful apps. Some of the best Android and iOS apps are created by organizations or individuals who have showed little interest in Microsoft. If the software maker can change people's perceptions of Windows, from viruses to bluescreens, into one of speed and style then the apps will flow and Microsoft has a hit on its hands.
Pocket-Lint: A good start, but far from perfect
Using Windows 8 for a while has had an interesting effect on us. We started off finding it confusing, and for the most part there are still things in here that baffle us. We have, however, learnt how to use the OS now. It's rare we can't get it to do what we want, and while there are still some huge frustrations, it's not perhaps as bad as we had feared.
Guardian: A necessary - but flawed - upgrade
"For Microsoft, Windows 8 is a huge leap forward - and yet it's doing it while holding all the baggage of the "old" Windows going back decades. Expect some cries of pain in the weeks and months to come as people adjust. However, viewed more broadly, it couldn't do anything else."
"Microsoft is taking a significant risk here, since users who have been loyal to Windows might get very confused or feel betrayed until they find that magic button to take them to the desktop. Whether these people can adjust to Windows 8 will depend heavily on Microsoft's messaging and instructions. If that goes wrong, Windows 8 could fail entirely."
Telegraph: Unfulfilled potential
For new users, Windows 8 will sometimes be infuriating - how do you close a programme? Why are there two versions of Internet Explorer, one for desktop, one for Windows 8 proper? (Because Windows 8 proper is more powerful.) Why is there no Facebook app, when Microsoft is a Facebook investor? Why is logging in to a wired network different from a wireless one? None of these are crises, but all of them indicate that Windows 8 remains the future - it will certainly not be the present until Intel chips power it to its full potential.Suggest a correction