Windows 8 nears completion PDF Print E-mail

Microsoft has made the final pre-release version of Windows 8 available for download. 

The consumer preview version of Windows 8 was announced at the Mobile World Congress, in Barcelona, at the end of February, while the developer release first came out in September last year.

According to president of the Windows and Windows Live division at Microsoft, Steven Sinofsky, since the company's first preview release of the new operating system, “millions of people” now use the product on a daily basis.

“We genuinely appreciate the effort that so many have put into pre-release testing and, of course, we appreciate the feedback too. Direct feedback and feedback through usage contributed to hundreds of visible changes in the product and tens of thousands of under-the-hood changes,” says Sinofsky, adding the next step will be the release to manufacturing (RTM).

“We often say that shipping a major product means 'slowing everything down'. Right now we're being very deliberate with every change we make and ensuring our quality is higher than ever as we progress towards RTM. The product is final when it is loaded on new PCs or broadly available for purchase.”

Sinofsky adds it is ultimately Microsoft's partners who will determine when the first Windows 8 PCs will be available. “If the feedback and telemetry on Windows 8 and Windows RT match our expectations, then we will enter the final phases of the RTM process in about two months,” says Sinofsky. “If we are successful in that, then we are tracking to our shared goal of having PCs with Windows 8 and Windows RT available for the holidays.”

Key updates in the latest pre-release include improved performance, multiple monitor support and Flash support. Adobe and Microsoft reportedly worked together to create a stripped down version of Flash, specifically for Internet Explorer 10. The Windows Store has also been expanded with hundreds of new “Metro” applications – all currently still free. The final pre-release can be downloaded here.

Game changer?

Windows 8 has been hailed as a major step for Microsoft as it completely revamps its traditional operating system look and user interface. The new OS is being designed to create a cohesive user experience across all devices, using the Cubist “Metro” style design.
 
Speaking to ITWeb in May, Microsoft's VP for the Middle East and Africa, Ali Faramawy said: “Windows 8 is a very different thing, because it's the first and only really true, no-compromise story between the kind of performance and manageability standards that you need in the enterprise and the kind of flexibility that you need for consumers.
 
“The work that has been done on the different working scenarios is absolutely amazing and the reception from the market has been really great. The Windows eco-system stands to be the largest, and much broader than any offering from any other company.”
 
According to Faramawy, 300-400 million PCs are sold every year: “I think that opens up incredible opportunities for developers in Africa and other parts of the world because they would be writing applications potentially for a 300-400 million device market. So it's very exciting and it's a true game changer.”
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