February 9, 2012
Microsoft To Release Consumer Preview, Not Beta Of Windows 8
At last month´s Consumer Electronics Show, Steve Ballmer promised a big “milestone” for Microsoft´s mobile OS in February, and reiterated that the Redmond, WA-based company has “reimagined” Windows with Windows 8, reports Chloe Albanesius for PC Mag.
With little in the way of advanced details, Microsoft is expected to unveil a “consumer preview”, or “beta” of Windows 8, during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on February 29, but away from the tradeshow floor.Microsoft has announced it will open the Windows Store to the public at the same time it ships Windows 8 Consumer Preview. Although the company is staying silent on a ship date for the final edition of Windows 8, the Consumer Preview´s timing hints at a fall 2012 debut assuming the company paces Windows 8´s development and testing as it did Windows 7´s.
Microsoft has a spotty record of releasing major software on schedule, with Windows 7´s first developer-oriented released at the end of October 2008. Microsoft offered a public beta of that OS in January 2009, and the final version hit shelves the third week of October, 2009.
The software giant would also certainly prefer not to duplicate the release timetable of Windows Vista, which missed 2006´s holiday selling season, not shipping until January 2007.
It is not fully clear how Windows 8 Consumer Preview will be distributed but it probably won´t reprise Windows 7 beta´s launch, which was plagued with problems.
An overload of Microsoft´s servers forced it to halt downloads, an on-then-off limit on the number of copies it would supply, and then a sudden halting of availability just a few weeks after its introduction which left users with a bad taste in their mouths for dealing with Microsoft and its release issues.
Windows 8 was offered with a Developer´s Preview in September 2011 and include the apparent death of the Start button, an iconic element that´s been part of the operating system for nearly 17 years, writes Computerworld´s Gregg Keizer.
Windows 8 is expected to feature a dramatic overhaul of the OS´s user interface by introducing a tile-based component suggestive of Windows Phone, specially-design apps for that interface and a digital distribution site -- the Windows Store -- that will be the only outlet for those Metro-style apps.
Microsoft´s use of the “Consumer Preview” name on products available to large numbers of users will not hide the fact that it is essentially a “beta” product, writes Ed Bott for ZD Net. Use of that phrase on an important software such as Windows 8 would send mixed messages. Old-school Windows beta testers would be demanding to know where to file bug reports, while the real target market might be scared off by the “don´t get mad at us” asterisk.
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