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Windows 8 Launches for Asia-Pacific Region
By Michael Low & Ng Chong Seng - on 26 Oct 2012, 2:41am

Windows 8 Launches for Asia-Pacific Region

Today is October 26, 2012, and it’s arguably the biggest day for Microsoft since the launch of Windows 95 17 years old. Yes, today’s the day people can buy Windows 8 in the stores. But make no mistake, today’s also a big day for PC OEMs. With slumping PC sales, Microsoft’s latest OS couldn’t have come any sooner. Therefore starting today as well, you’ll be greeted with troves of brand-name Windows 8 devices when you step into an IT store. From what we understand, over 50 Windows 8 devices from manufacturers like ASUS, Acer, Dell, Fujitsu, HP, Lenovo, LG, Samsung, Sony, and Toshiba will be available at all participating IT retail stores. From compact, touch-enabled tablets and lightweight laptops to new-fangled convertible devices and powerful, all-in-one desktops, there's something for everyone.

A regional Windows 8 media event took place in Singapore in the afternoon of October 25 at Loola’s by Awfully Chocolate at the heart of the Esplanade, which was followed by an invitation-only consumer event later in the evening. On both occasions, attendees got to experience Windows 8 on a variety of new hardware devices. From our observations, many consumers were stumped by the new Start screen and were unsure about the various touch gestures. On the other hand, they also found the new Start screen to be handy after understanding what it can do (such as glancing information quickly from the live tiles). The ability to run desktop apps also allayed some of their fears regarding app compatibility.

We've used Windows 8 on a variety of devices, but never on a 70-inch screen - until now. This is a Sharp PN-L702B interactive display, which was connected to a Lenovo laptop via HDMI.

Singaporean actor and singer Nat Ho was also interested to find out more about Windows 8.

Interest among consumers seems to be fairly high. We were told that all the 800 or so slots were taken, and Microsoft had to turn away many who had expressed interest in coming to the consumer event.

Speaking of apps, Microsoft has officially opened its Windows Store for Singapore, Malaysia and 15 other Asia Pacific countries as part of Windows 8 launch. At launch, there are apps from Channel NewsAsia, The Straits Times, Stomp, NomWhere, Razor TV, Photo Monkey, SG Cab, NomWhere, SG Deal, Wego.com, SingTel, StarHub, Merlion Words, iProperty, and more.

Following that, we turned our attention to Funan DigitaLife Mall, where Challenger was the first IT store in Singapore to sell Windows 8 and Windows 8 devices to the public with a midnight opening at 12:01am on October 26. So without further ado, here are some more pictures of yesterday’s and early this morning’s events.

At about 5:15pm, the consumer event started. These were the first people in line.

Many consumers were intrigued by the new Start screen. In fact, we didn't hear anyone asking for a keyboard and mouse at all.

While you're queuing, why not answer a simple Windows-related question, and win some prizes?

The Samsung Experience Corner in Challenger was officially opened at 7:30pm. It too attracted a huge crowd, with many checking out the Samsung ATIV Smart PC and Smart PC Pro, both running Windows 8.

From 7pm, there was a separate queue for those who wanted to buy Windows 8. The first 88 members got the Windows 8 Pro Upgrade for S$59, as well as a free printer and S$10 voucher.

The first in line was Mr. Victor Lim (left in photo). This was him receiving Windows 8 Pro from Mr. Ben Tan, COO of Challenger. A long-time Windows user, Mr. Lim will be upgrading from Windows 7.

If you aren't buying a new Windows 8 device, the other way to get the new OS is to upgrade your existing PC. Through the end of January, consumers currently running PCs with Windows XP, Windows Vista, or Windows 7, are qualified to download Windows 8 Pro for an estimated retail price of US$39.99 from windows.microsoft.com. And eligible Windows 7 PCs purchased between June 2, 2012, and January 31, 2013 in more than 140 countries can download Windows 8 Pro for an estimated retail price of US$14.99 (estimated at RM49.99) with the Windows Upgrade Offer, available at www.windowsupgradeoffer.com. New Windows 8 licenses can be bought at all leading IT retail stores for US$69.99.

If you want to find out more about Windows 8, such as how to navigate the new Start screen, what are some of the new built-in apps, and many more, check out our HardwareZone Windows 8 Tech Guide.