HUNDREDS of people are expected to descend on computer stores around the country today for the launch of the new Windows 8 operating system.
It may not have the same amount of hype as an Apple product launch, but huge crowds were expected to check out the new computer software, which is being billed as the most radical update of Microsoft's flagship software since Windows '95 was launched 17 years ago.
In Dublin, PC World opened its Carrickmines store at midnight to cater for demand and most of its other outlets opened early this morning.
Dixons commercial director, Peter Gallagly, which owns the PC World chain of stores, said his company was bracing itself for the rush. "We've trained over 300 sales staff on the system and we will be giving customers the option of one-to-one demonstrations as well," he said.
Launching the system in New York, Microsoft boss Steve Ballmer outlined how intuitive the new system is, but it is a big departure from previous Windows systems.
One change has seen the 'start menu' which has appeared on the Windows system since 1995 removed, while most of the new computers will have a touch screen. Mr Gallagly said his staff were well prepared for any confusion among consumers. "Customers will have the option of having their computer set up in store to their exact specifications," he added.
The company is also opening a new store in Tralee to coincide with the launch.
Windows 8 is being seen as a make or break product for Microsoft, which has been under assault from the likes of Apple which has eaten into its market share through its laptops and the huge popularity of the iPad.
Although more than 90pc of computers use the Windows system, a huge proportion of them run on the 11-year-old Windows XP and Microsoft desperately need to persuade users to upgrade to Windows 8.