Windows 8 is finally here... at least, in a public beta sense. During Mobile World Congress 2012, Microsoft launched the Windows 8 Consumer Preview on Leap Day, February 29, as promised, offering a working taste of what's to come later this year. The 5 MB beta installer can be downloaded immediately, but demand is making things a bit sluggish, and it's only going to get worse as news begins to circulate, so be patient.
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"Windows 8 Consumer Preview is prerelease software that may be substantially modified before it’s commercially released," the company warns to adventurous consumers. "Microsoft makes no warranties, express or implied, with respect to the information provided here. Some product features and functionality may require additional hardware or software. If you decide to go back to your previous operating system, you'll need to reinstall it from the recovery or installation media that came with your PC."
Launching alongside the Customer Review is the Windows Store. It provides a variety of new Metro style apps from both third-party developers and Microsoft which consumers can try and experience at no cost. The Windows Store offers personalized recommendations while Windows 8 itself gives users the ability to take their apps and settings with them across multiple PCs.
Also included is Internet Explorer 10 Platform Preview 5. "The browser has been re-imagined to create a new experience designed specifically for Windows 8 devices," Microsoft reports. "It provides an edge-to-edge user interface that is all about less browser and more Web. Fast and fluid, Internet Explorer is hardware-accelerated to enable Web performance."
The Windows 8 Consumer Preview is now available worldwide for download in English, French, German, Japanese and simplified Chinese languages. More information about Windows 8 and how to download the Consumer Preview is available at http://preview.windows.com or http://windowsteamblog.com.