Microsoft has announced the availability of the Windows 8 Consumer Preview — the next milestone of the Windows operating system. The Preview offers a more robust experience for testing the operating system and is available to the widest range of people yet following the initial release of the Windows 8 Developer Preview late last year. The Developer Preview received more than 3 million downloads.
“With Windows 8, we re-imagined the different ways people interact with their PC and how to make everything feel like a natural extension of the device, whether using a Windows 8 tablet, laptop or all-in-one. The Windows 8 Consumer Preview brings a no-compromises approach to using your PC,” said Steven Sinofsky, president of the Windows and Windows Live Division at Microsoft.At a Windows 8 Consumer Preview event in Barcelona that was attended by partners from Europe and around the world, the company shared some key new updates in the Windows 8 Consumer Preview:
- Broad range of product changes and improvements. From completing the user experience for touch, keyboard and mouse to refining the development platform, the Consumer Preview improves performance, quality and reliability across all subsystems. With the added features, it represents a more complete view of the capabilities of Windows 8.
- Windows Store with new apps. The Windows 8 Consumer Preview marks the beta opening of the Windows Store, filled with new Metro style apps from both third-party developers and Microsoft. During the Consumer Preview, these apps are available to try and experience at no cost to users. The Windows Store will offer personalized recommendations, and Windows 8 gives users the ability to take their apps and settings with them across multiple PCs, making it easy to discover and try new apps while offering developers the greatest opportunity of any platform.
- Connecting to the cloud across Windows-based PCs and Windows Phone 7. The Windows 8 Consumer Preview offers seamless integration with the content people care about across their Web services. An optional additional sign-on with a Microsoft account provides access to a host of features, including the ability to roam all settings, use cloud storage, communicate with email, calendar and contacts, and connect to a broad range of services. Your connection to the cloud works across your Windows-based PCs and your Windows 7 phones.
- Internet Explorer 10 Platform Preview 5. The best way to experience the Web on Windows is with Internet Explorer 10. The browser has been re-imagined to create a new experience designed specifically for Windows 8 devices. It provides an user interface that is all about less browser and more Web. Fast and fluid, Internet Explorer is hardware-accelerated to enable Web performance.
- Preview of new hardware capabilities. At the event, Microsoft also showcased Windows 8 running on a wide range of new x86- and ARM-based reference hardware. This hardware will be available to select developers for trial and testing as previously announced.