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Windows 8 release date is 26 October

Windows 8 arrives on 26 October, paving the way for Windows Phone 8 and the Microsoft Surface.

Windows 8 is scheduled to launch on 26 October. The next generation of Microsoft software for computers, laptops and tablets will arrive in three months, paving the way for Windows Phone 8, Windows 8 tablets, and the Microsoft Surface.

Windows 8 boasts a new interface, consisting of large coloured squares that act as shortcuts to your apps. It's a front end that should be great for touchscreen PCs and tablets, but the jury's out on whether it'll work on regular computers -- click here for our guide to how to use the Windows 8 interface.

With a release date confirmed for Windows 8, Microsoft has cleared the way for tablets powered by Windows 8, and phones powered by the mobile spin-off, Windows Phone 8. These portable versions of Windows are also ready to roll in October.

There will be two types of Windows 8 slate: the full-fat version, and the streamlined tablet-specific Windows 8 RT for ARM devices. The flagship Windows 8 RT tablet is Microsoft's own Microsoft Surface, challenging the market-leading iPad before the end of the year.

As if that wasn't enough excitement for one month, October is also set to see the release of the new iPhone 5, along with Apple's OS X Mountain Lion software. With phones, tablets and computers going up against each other, it's the first time in years that Apple and Microsoft have squared off so directly against each other -- and I can't wait.

For more on Windows 8, here's how to manage your contacts and photos in Windows 8, how to change default programs in Windows 8, and how to develop apps for Windows 8. Plus, here's 50 Windows 8 tips you need to know.

Are you excited about Windows 8? Is October going to be the best month ever? Tell me your thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook page.