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Windows 8 upgrades and first hardware up for order today

Starting today you can buy your upgrade to Windows 8 Pro -- and order the first new Windows 8 computers and tablets.

The first Windows 8 deals are on sale now. Starting today you can buy your upgrade to Windows 8 Pro -- and order the first new Windows 8 computers and tablets from the likes of Asus, Dell, HP, Samsung and Sony.

Buy today and your DVD of Windows 8 Pro will drop through your letterbox on 26 October, when the new software goes on sale properly.

The upgrade disc comes in a box sporting one of five swirly designs. You'd better really love that swooshy-whooshy pattern, because ordering Windows 8 in a box costs £50 -- whereas downloading the software from Microsoft will be almost half the price. With barely two weeks to go before the big day, it hardly seems worth the extra cash, but hey: some people love boxes.

Windows 8 Pro is the beefed-up business version of the new Windows, which features a dramatic new look made up of colourful dynamic squares. The standard version will cost £25 to upgrade. If you've bought a new laptop or computer this summer with Windows 7 on board, however, the upgrade to Windows 8 can be yours for just £15.

Upgrade offers are available until 31 January 2013, after which the price will go up.

New computers and tablets with Windows 8 built-in can be ordered from today, although they won't show up until on or after the 26th. New Windows 8 hardware includes the Samsung Ativ Smart PC, HP Envy x2 and Dell XPS 10.

They'll be followed by the Microsoft Surface tablet, but prices for that piece of kit -- Microsoft's first shot in the consumer tablet wars -- have yet to be revealed. Let's hope the flaws Intel was worried about are sorted out in time.

Do you prefer your software to come on a disc in a box, or are you happy to download? Will you be upgrading to the new-look Windows 8? Tell me your thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook page.