Microsoft just launched the consumer preview of Windows 8. That means anyone who wants to check out the latest version of Microsoft’s new operating system — unveiled on Wednesday at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona — can download it right now and start scrolling through Metro apps in all of their tiled glory.
How can you get this groundbreaking piece of pre-release software? Just head on over to Microsoft’s site and download. Microsoft has said repeatedly that Windows 8 would run on any machine that can run Windows 7, so theoretically you should be able to install it on your Win7 PC with no problems (of course, be sure to back up all your stuff thoroughly).
Be warned, though: this is pre-release “beta” software — not ready for prime time yet. As we found in our detailed look at the Windows 8 Consumer Preview, the OS still has many bugs, and some of the functionality isn’t fully baked. Most notably on the “under construction” list: OS-level sharing, which right now can only be done with the Mail app.
However, for those bold enough, using Windows 8 on a touchscreen device or with a traditional mouse and keyboard is a fascinating experience. Many Metro apps, with their full-screen nature, look gorgeous, and Microsoft has built bridges into the OS for connecting with services such as Facebook and Flickr. Of course, the traditional desktop is always just a click or two away.
When will you be able to get the final version of Windows 8? Not till this fall, when Microsoft is expected to release it to the public — along with an nearly identical version of Windows for low-power ARM devices and a big update to Windows Phone that’ll bring it more in line with Windows 8.
Until then, you’ve got this to play with. What do you think of Windows 8? Have your say in the comments, and watch for our Open Thread post later today.
Windows 8 Consumer Preview: An Overview
Here’s what greets you every time you log into your Windows 8 machine. Yes, the tiles are customizable, though it’s a little unwieldy in practice.
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