Windows 8 will launch on October 26

Microsoft has announced the official release date of its new Windows operating system.

Individual cconsumers who want to upgrade their existing PCs will be able to buy Windows 8 on October 26.

Manufacturers, meanwhile, will have access to the new platform in a couple weeks. In addition, enterprise users will be able to  grab the OS in early August.

The successor to Windows 7 will be released in four different versions – Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro, Windows 8 Enterprise, and Windows 8 RT. The latter is for tablets.

This is a more concise offering than previous versions of Windows, which were often tiered in various confusing configurations.

Existing Windows users will be able to upgrade to Windows 8 Pro for just $39.99, making it the cheapest upgrade in Windows history.

The $40 price applies to customers who buy the upgrade as a digital download on Microsoft’s website. Those who go to a store and purchase the packaged retail version of the OS will have to pay $70.

According to Microsoft, these are promotional sale prices intended to get as many early adopters as possible. After January 31, 2013, the prices will go up.

Windows 8 will be unlike any previous version of Microsoft’s operating system because it will have a dedicated focus on tablets that will be separate from the standard PC version.

Microsoft has a lot of ambition with Windows 8, and with a complete interface overhaul and functionality up the wazoo, it does have a chance to make a splash.