Windows 8 is a major release of the Windows NT operating system developed by Microsoft. It was released to manufacturing on August 1, 2012; it was subsequently made available for download via MSDN and TechNet on August 15, 2012, and later to retail on October 26, 2012.Windows 8 introduced major changes to the operating system's platform and user interface with the intention to improve its user experience on tablets, where Windows competed with mobile operating systems such as Android and iOS. In particular, these changes included a touch-optimized Windows shell and start screen based on Microsoft's Metro design language, integration with online services, the Windows Store, and a new keyboard shortcut for screenshots. Many of these features were adapted from Windows Phone. Windows 8 also added support for USB 3.0, Advanced Format, near-field communication, and cloud computing. Additional security features -- including built-in antivirus software, integration with Microsoft SmartScreen phishing filtering, and support for Secure Boot on supported devices -- were introduced. Windows 8 is the first version of Windows to support the ARM architecture under the Windows RT branding; additionally, CPUs without PAE, SSE2 and NX are no longer supported.
Windows 8 received a mostly negative reception. Although the reaction to its performance improvements, security enhancements, and improved support for touchscreen devices was positive, the new user interface of the operating system was widely criticized for being confusing and unintuitive, especially when used with a keyboard and mouse instead of a touchscreen. Despite these shortcomings, 60 million licenses were sold through January 2013, a number that included both upgrades and sales to OEMs for new PCs.Microsoft released Windows 8.1 in October 2013, which addressed some aspects of Windows 8 that were criticized by reviewers and early adopters and also incorporated improvements to various aspects of the operating system. Windows 8 was ultimately succeeded by Windows 10 in July 2015. Support for RTM editions of Windows 8 ended on January 12, 2016, and with the exception of Windows Embedded 8 Standard users, all users are required to install the Windows 8.1 update. Mainstream support for the Embedded Standard edition of Windows 8 ended on July 10, 2018, and extended support ended on July 11, 2023.
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