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Windows chief Steven Sinofsky said there have been 1,000 PCs certified for Windows 8, with the cheapest costing about $300.

Several PC manufacturers including Samsung, Lenovo Group Ltd., Hewlett-Packard Co. and Dell Inc. have designed new Windows 8 machines. They include hybrids combining elements of laptops and tablets. There are also all-in-one models _ desktops with a built-in screen.

Many of the devices are available now, though some models won’t go on sale for another month or two.

Meanwhile, retailers such as Best Buy Co. have trained staff to explain and demonstrate the new system.

Microsoft also started selling its Surface tablet with Windows RT on Friday, but it’s available only at its retail stores and website. A Windows 8 version will come out later.

_ Upgrade your machine:

Anyone who’s purchased a Windows 7 PC (other than the Starter Edition) since June 2 can buy Windows 8 Pro for $14.99. The offer applies to Windows 7 PCs sold until Jan. 31, and the upgrade must be claimed by Feb. 28.

To claim the offer, register the machine at https://windowsupgradeoffer.com. You’ll get an email with a promo code, which you can use to get the Windows 8 upgrade online.

If you bought a Windows PC before June 2, you can upgrade for $39.99. You must already have Windows XP with Service Pack 3, Windows Vista or Windows 7.

Those who prefer to buy a DVD to upgrade will have to pay $69.99.

Before buying the upgrade, check to make sure your machine is strong enough to run Windows 8. Microsoft lists the system requirements here: http://windowsupgradeoffer.com/en-US/Home/ProgramInfo.

Not sure if you have what it takes? Microsoft has an upgrade tool that will stop you if you try to buy Windows 8 without the requirements. The tool will also warn you of software that might need updates to work on Windows 8. Go to http://Windows.com to get started.

If you’re upgrading from Windows 7, the tool will let you keep settings, personal files and applications. You can migrate settings and files from Vista and files only from XP. You’ll also have the option to start fresh and bring nothing to Windows 8.

_ Keep older versions of Windows:

Do nothing if you do not wish to upgrade to Windows 8.

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