A guide to Microsoft Windows 8

  • Screenshot shows Microsoft Windows 8's start screen Ed Rhee/CNET
    Screenshot shows Microsoft Windows 8's start screen

    (CBS/AP) With the launch of Windows 8, buyers are discovering a computing experience unlike anything they've seen before. Here's a guide to getting past some of the operating system's hurdles.

    The main thing to know is that Windows 8 is designed especially for touch-screen computers, to make desktops and laptops work more like tablets. It is Microsoft's (MSFT) way of addressing the popularity of tablets, namely the iPad. But Windows 8 will work with mouse and keyboard shortcuts, too. It'll take some getting used to, though.

    There are two versions of Windows 8, or more precisely, there's Windows 8 and there's Windows RT. They look the same, but they run on different processing chips. Windows 8 runs on standard chips from Intel and AMD and is the version you'd get if you're upgrading your home desktop or notebook PC. Windows RT is the version for light, small tablets and laptop-tablet hybrids.

    Windows 8 will run programs written for older versions of Windows. Windows RT won't. It's limited to applications specifically written for it and available through Microsoft's store. (As a consolation, a version of Microsoft Office is included free on Windows RT devices).

    Here are some tips on how to navigate the new Windows.