Head to this Bing homepage and you'll see a red and plumb-colored beta fish swimming across the screen. You'll also notice the floating "hotspot" that leads to an FAQ about the Windows 8 Consumer Preview. Even the URL itself spells out "win8" if the other two hints weren't enough of a clue to signal the upcoming Windows 8 Public Beta, or rather, the newly christened Windows 8 Consumer Preview.
Currently one out of four hotspots on Bing's teaser site are actually working: the Building Windows 8 Blog. Along the bottom of the fishy animation, only one out of three links are currently working: Dev Center - Metro style apps. Either the other links are actually timing out due to high demand, or Microsoft simply hasn't uploaded those sections to its hosting server.
Microsoft is expected to launch the Windows 8 Consumer Preview later this month alongside an initial look at the Windows Store. Consumers will be able to download and install free Metro-themed apps -- paid versions will not be introduced until Windows 8 officially goes retail this fall. Also included in the Consumer Preview will be several mouse and keyboard improvements based on feedback provided by the Developer Preview. Microsoft has even promised that the consumer preview build will be totally different than its developer-based predecessor.
When released to the public retail channel, Windows 8 will be Microsoft's biggest overhaul to the Windows platform since the company moved from Windows 3.1 to Windows 95. Like before, legacy applications will work within the revised x86-based platform, but in this case, they simply won't visually "match" with the new Metro interface. Microsoft has taken a risky bet moving to the blocky interface, and the Consumer Preview should reveal whether Microsoft's bet will ultimately pay off or not.
Microsoft used this specific beta once before, as it swam onto the desktop of the Windows 7 beta back in 2009.