The latest version of the company's long-running graphical operating system retains Windows' traditional desktop design but also adds another view dubbed Metro that is heavily geared toward touchscreen devices, the Los Angeles Times reported.
More than 1,000 computers have been certified for Windows 8 and computers running Windows 7 will boot up faster and be more efficient if upgraded to the new version, Windows President Steven Sinofsky said at the introduction event.
In tandem with the Windows 8 unveiling, Microsoft announced the opening of an online store for Windows 8 applications similar to Apple's App Sore.
Microsoft also talked about Windows RT, a scaled-down version of the operating system intended for tablet computers.
Microsoft's flagship tablet, the Surface, will be available Friday running Windows RT, while a Surface model running the more robust Windows 8 will launch later, the company said.