Windows 8: What to expect from new Microsoft operating system

(CBS News) Microsoft is launching a new operating system for personal computers this week. PC users are about to get a surprise -- or maybe a shock.

Windows 8 looks nothing like the Windows millions of people around the world are accustomed to.

Microsoft says this is not a makeover, but a "complete re-imagining" of what Windows should be.

To start with, there's no start "button" -- a tidal shift for those working with Windows. Microsoft ads indicate the operating system is easy to use, but whether you're currently using a PC or a Mac, Windows 8 can be a bit of a shock.

At its heart, it's full of touch-centric "tiles" that guide users around, not traditional lists and icons. Colorful, but not so catered to users of a mouse, a peak ahead to the future of tablet and mobile computing.

The multiple users CBS News asked to try it all had different levels of experience..

Asked about an initial impression, one user, Richard Burns, said, "It is clean and fast. I like it. It's less cluttered."

Another user, Gayla Miller, said, "I think it seems more user-friendly. It's like a dock."

Asked if it seems like something you would expect from Microsoft, test user Shoaib Rahman, said, "It is not their usual style to have colors and random things."

For the most part, users liked the layout, but were frequently frustrated by how to get where they wanted to go.

User Michelle Coopwood said, "I think there is always that hard transition. You know when we went from one version to the next version. It takes a minute, but it's never been this difficult."

Microsoft founder Bill Gates says the new look is a nod to what's next. He said, "The rich user interface -- it's a big step. It's key to where personal computing is going."

But with this radical redesign, Microsoft is taking a big risk, hoping it results in a big reward.

Check out CNET.com editor-at-large Brian Cooley's interview below about Windows 8.

Windows 8 goes on sale this Friday, the same day they launch their tablet computer the Microsoft Surface. It's also the same week Apple releases the iPad Mini.

For more on this tech roll-out and to watch the users test out the Windows 8 operating system, watch Jeff Glor's report.

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