It’s been just over a week since Microsoft launched the its newest operating system, Windows 8. The much-anticipated new offering has met with mixed reviews, as do all new tech gadgets, but over all the response seems to be positive so far.

There are tons of in-depth reviews out there (like this one from Engadget) with all the details you could possibly need about this new OS. So what we’re going to do today is a run-down of that’s new with Windows 8, who should get it now, and the nuts and bolt of upgrading.

What’s So Different?

1. Works on tablets as well as PCs

2. Features touch capability for touch screens and pads

3. New user experience that is more fun and colorful

4. Re-vamped Start menu that displays live apps in a mosaic of colored tiles

5. The Start button now only appears upon hovering in the bottom left corner

6. Improved startup time — previously 1 minute or more, now 20 seconds

7. Picture Password that uses a series of gestures on a photo to authenticate

8. Charms Bar with shortcuts like search, share, start menu, and settings

9. Four versions: Windows 8, Pro, Windows RT, and Windows Enterprise

10. A multitude of new built-in apps, including SkyDrive and Windows Store.

Who Should Get Windows 8, Who Should Wait?

If you have a deep and abiding love for Windows, you’re going to want Windows 8. It’s shiny, it’s new, and it’s really really different. If you are someone who likes try-before-you-buy by letting your employer upgrade first, be advised that the research firm Gartner estimates that 90% of companies won’t upgrade their machines to Windows 8 until 2015. (CNN) So if you are the impatient sort who likes to have the newest thing, you may want to go ahead and take the plunge.

However, if you do not own a touch screen computer yet, Windows 8 will not be as life-changing for you. Sure, it works with a keyboard and mouse just fine, and it is compatible with trackpads and touchpads that support gestures, but it’s really engineered for touch screen PCs. So if you’re concerned about the investment of time or money in upgrading, it’s logical to wait until you buy your next computer.

Also, people who have access to only one PC or tablet for work or school should be cautious about upgrading to something brand new right away, as there are bound to be kinks and bugs that have not yet been discovered.

The Nuts & Bolts: Requirements

-       1 GB of RAM
-       20 GB of free disk space
-       1 GHz processor
-       1366 x 768 resolution
-       Upgrading? Windows XP with Service Pack 3 or later

Through the end of the year, Windows 8 Pro (the only product you can buy stand-alone right now) is available for $39.99 when you download, $69.99 in a box.

Do you plan to upgrade right away, or wait for the early adopters to work out the kinds? If you’ve already upgraded, we’d love to hear your opinions!

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