Recent reports indicate that Microsoft is now distributing build 7971.0.110324-1900 (Windows 8 Milestone 3) to key OEMs (HP etc.) via the company's Connect external testing system. The distribution is by way of a program called Windows 8 and Server vNext Pre-Release Program, and requires a special invite code to gain access to the early build.
The report follows news of a leaked screenshot revealing a System Reset feature in Windows 8. This will allow end-users to reset their systems to the original OEM factory settings without the need for re-formatting and re-installing the OS. Rumors suggest that systems will be reset in a matter of minutes, and will be especially beneficial in removing malware plaguing the system.
Microsoft is reportedly compiling Milestone 3 builds of Windows 8 and is expected to release a full-fledged beta this September. Microsoft first introduced Windows 8 to the public back in January at CES 2011, revealing that the OS could perform normally on ARM-based components offered by Qualcomm and Texas Instruments. The OS is now set to make another public appearance this June, running on tablets.
Unofficial bits of the Windows 8 jigsaw puzzle have been pieced together over the last six months or so, some of which point to a full 3D interface with dynamic shortcuts and icons, to an Aero Lite secondary interface for slower systems. Many reports have indicated that the OS will integrate cloud-based services like backup, security, and even multiple user accounts. The underlying structure itself will supposedly be modular-based, allowing Microsoft to extract portions of the OS to work on smaller devices.
Key OEMs invited into the Windows 8 and Server vNext Pre-Release program will be directed here (opens in new tab), although the X's will be replaced by the actual invite code. It's highly probable that these OEMs will be the ones actually providing tablet samples slated for showcasing in June.