San Francisco: Microsoft has announced that it has completed the product development and testing of Windows 8 and is releasing its next generation of operating system to computer makers.
"The Windows 8 team is proud to share with you that a short while ago we started releasing Windows 8 to PC OEM and manufacturing partners," said Microsoft's Windows engineering team on their blog.
"This means our next milestone will be the availability of exciting new models of PCs loaded with Windows 8 and on-line availability of Windows 8 on October 26, 2012."
The step, which is called "release to manufacturing" in the technology circle, means computer manufacturers now get the final version of Windows 8 and can start to install the system onto computers, reported Xinhua.
On Oct 26, Windows 8 will be available via retail and preloaded on new PCs and tablets. Consumers whose computers are running previous versions of Windows will be able to get the software by upgrading for $39.99.
Microsoft also has an upgrade offer for customers who buy a qualified PC running its current Windows 7 system between June 2, 2012 and Jan 31, 2013 to get the Windows 8 upgrade for just $14.99.
On the same day of the official release of Windows 8, Microsoft will also start to sell its tablet computer Surface, one of the company's most-anticipated products in years.
The tablet will run mobile versions of Windows 8.
Windows 8 marks the biggest change Microsoft has ever done to its operating system as worldwide users have been used to the Windows 95 style for 17 years. Microsoft hopes the overhaul will allow it to regain ground in mobile computing lost to Apple's iOS and Google's Android operating systems.