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By 1 March 2012 | Categories: news

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Microsoft has announced the availability of Windows 8 Consumer Preview, the pre-release beta version of the company’s forthcoming new desktop, notebook and tablet operating system (OS).

The Windows 8 Consumer Preview provides PC users with a look at what the final release of Windows 8 will offer. Windows 8 employs Microsoft’s all-new Metro style user interface (UI), which is very similar to the one found on Windows Phone OS-running smartphones like the Nokia Lumia 800.

As with the mobile OS, live tiles form the epicentre of the user experience, which are able to include anything from different apps, files, media players to links to RSS feeds. These tiles are able to provide users with information without having to be opened first. For example, a weather app will show the weather forecast for the next three days directly on the desktop. Metro is optimised for touch, but can be just as easily navigated with mouse and keyboard.

Apps will now also form part of the PC experience, as Windows 8 Consumer Preview marks the beta opening of the Windows Store, which sports numerous Metro style applications from Microsoft as well as third-party developers. Microsoft said that, during the Consumer Preview, these apps are available for users to try out for free.

At the launch event for Windows 8 Consumer Preview at Mobile World Congress 2012 in Barcelona, Steven Sinofsky, president of the Windows and Windows Live Division at Microsoft, also showcased Windows 8’s new hardware capabilities. Sinofsky and his engineering leadership team ran the OS on a wide range of new x86- as well as ARM-based devices, which the OS now boasts support for.

“With Windows 8, we reimagined 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,” said Steven Sinofsky, president of the Windows and Windows Live Division at Microsoft. “The Windows 8 Consumer Preview brings a no-compromises approach to using your PC.”

Microsoft stated that the Windows 8 Consumer Preview is available for download, for users that have a Windows 7-operating PC.

The general specs your PC should have to run the Windows 8 Consumer Preview are as follows:
  • 1 GHz or faster processor
  • 1 GB RAM (32-bit) or 2 GB RAM (64-bit)
  • 16 GB available hard disk space (32-bit) or 20 GB (64-bit)
  • DirectX 9 supporting graphics processing unit (GPU) with WDDM (Windows Display Driver Model) 1.0 or higher driver
  • 1024 x 768 minimum screen resolution
 
In related news, Microsoft also recently revealed an important development milestone for the next version of its Office productivity suite, as the company kicked-off the Office 15 technical preview program.

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