The Microsoft Windows 8 Release Preview is now available for download for curious users looking to catch a glimpse at what the next-generation Windows operating system will be all about when it launches later this year.
The Windows 8 Release Preview is very similar to the Consumer Preview Microsoft unveiled last February at Mobile World Congress, though the Release Preview contains a handful of refinements and new features that more closely represent what the final product will entail.
Microsoft reps have been clear that Windows 8 is a near universal operating system, designed for desktops, notebooks and tablets. As such it is very touch and swipe centric, complete with a live-tile based overlay dubbed Metro, which is very similar to the Windows Phone 7 interface. The Metro UI was designed for touch navigation, though many users complained it is awkward to navigate with a mouse and keyboard, so the Release Preview has added trackpad and gesture swipe support for non-tablet devices.
Other improvements include tweaks to the Metro apps, including the mail, people, photo apps, as well as new Bing news, travel and sports apps. Also, both the Metro version of IE as well as the desktop version now support Flash.
Both the Consumer Preview and Release Preview are a form of public beta testing for Microsoft, with the Release Preview being the last major release. Rumors suggest Microsoft will officially announce Windows 8 in the fall, and with the Release Preview now available for download, it could very well be on track.
To that end, Microsoft also announced the Windows 8 upgrade path. Beginning June 2, users buying select Windows 7 machines through January 31, 2013, will be able to upgrade to Windows 8 Pro for $14.99.
Download the Windows 8 Release Preview here: http://preview.windows.com.
Windows 8 Update:
Users of Apple iPad and Android devices waiting to get their hands on the latest and compatible version of Microsoft’s Office suite will have to wait a bit longer, according to sources. While the company plans to deliver the Office 15 beta to developers and corporate users on July 16, the finished version will first be available only on Windows 8 and Windows mobile devices. Check out the full story on SearchEnterpriseDesktop.