It's unusual, to say the least, for us to spend a year with a product before publishing our review. In the case of Windows 8, we've written thousands of words already, starting with our first hands-on in September of 2011, followed by deep dives on the Developer Preview, Consumer Preview, Release Preview and RTM build. Even our readers have had ample time to get acquainted with the OS -- it's been available as a public download since February. And yet, we've never tested a final version of the software running on brand new, made-for-Windows-8 hardware. With the OS now on sale (alongside dozens of new PCs), it's finally time for us to double back and revisit everything we've previously written in the form of a final, comprehensive review.
And what a challenging assignment this was: it's hard enough to give an OS the full review treatment without burying the reader in minute details. It's even tougher when the software was built for so many different kinds of hardware. Combining a traditional desktop with Windows Phone-inspired Live Tiles, Windows 8 was designed to be equally at home on traditional PCs and more finger-friendly devices, like tablets and hybrids. In addition to walking you through the operating system's various gestures and built-in apps, then, we'll spend some time talking about which form factors are best suited to this redesigned version of Windows. Read on to see what we found out.
Gallery: Windows 8 screenshots