In general, Microsoft's programs on the RTM version of Windows 8 run considerably faster than on the Release Preview version. That's true of both system programs on the desktop side and Metro apps. I also found it applied to both traditional mouse-and-keyboard systems and on a touch-sensitive tablet.
One of the most intriguing changes: Internet Explorer 10 still has Do Not Track as a default, but Microsoft put the option to turn off DNT into the Windows setup procedure. (In spite of what you might have read, the option is located in Win8 setup, not in IE setup.) If you take the defaults when you install Windows 8, IE10 has DNT turned on -- a controversial move that puts Microsoft on the side of privacy advocates and pits it against advertising groups. Whether Microsoft's approach satisfies the many conflicting calls for DNT implementation remains to be seen.
Clarification on available versions
Last month, Microsoft announced several upgrade routes for moving from XP, Vista, and Win7 to Windows 8. The long and short of it is that every Windows customer qualifies for an upgrade license, and it costs $39.99 until Jan. 31, 2013. Accordingly, Microsoft isn't going to ship shrink-wrapped retail boxes containing Windows 8 upgrade DVDs.
On the other hand, if you don't want an upgrade -- that is, you're installing Win8 on a newly constructed machine or you're using it for dual-boot or you'll stick it inside Boot Camp or another VM -- Microsoft has (finally!) clarified that a new version of Windows, the System Builder edition, will suffice. Unlike the old Windows OEM versions that have been clouded in EULA double-talk for a decade, this edition is clearly intended -- and licensed -- for single use on any PC.
Some people think that Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro tablets will hit the market by storm. Having used Windows 8 on desktops, a laptop, and on a tablet for almost a year now, I'm considerably more skeptical. Although Win8 running on an Intel tablet will undoubtedly solve some specific corporate (and personal) requirements, I certainly don't expect a massive move to Windows 8, either in the office or at home.
Windows RT Surface tablets, based on the ARM processor, may be a different story. We'll learn more about RT's chances in the coming weeks. One thing is for sure: There's going to be significant demand for Windows 7 laptops and desktops for the foreseeable future.
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