The Windows 8 Consumer Preview is available to download from Microsoft, giving us the chance to have a better look at Windows 8 and assess its new features.
Note that this is effectively a beta version of Windows 8 so is likely to contain bugs and it may be heavily modified before official release – currently pencilled in for Q4 this year.
It is best to install this Preview on a test computer because, if you decide to go back to your previous operating system, you’ll need to reinstall it from scratch.
Download Location – varies depending on whether you wish to direct download the Preview as an ISO image file and burn it to DVD/bootable flash drive yourself, or if you want to let Microsoft decide the right download for you and offer a compatibility report and upgrade assistance:
Is Windows 8 Any Good?
People are rushing to judge this Preview but, as it is far from the finished article, it is too early to either praise or write off Windows 8. We need to see how it develops over the coming months to get a better idea – some features in the current version may not even make it into the final release.
All I will say at this stage is that whilst the new ‘Metro’ tiled interface looks great on tablets (which is what it was designed for) Microsoft may be in serious danger of alienating potential desktop and laptop buyers by putting all their eggs in the touch screen basket.
A video showcasing the main new features in this Windows 8 Consumer Preview is below:
Already, articles are circulating showing how to shut down Windows 8, how to add back a Start button/Start menu and how to disable the Metro tiled interface (via a registry tweak) in favor of a traditional desktop display.
The fact that such articles (which should be basic, but aren’t) are even needed indicates just how focused Windows 8 is on touch screen displays – and how difficult a transition users of non-tablet computers may face.
However, there is plenty of time yet for Microsoft to change Windows 8 substantially before it is finally released for sale – no doubt they will be looking very closely at the feedback from this Consumer Preview over the coming months and, I assume, will take special notice of opinions from large corporate buyers looking for a reason to upgrade PCs and laptops from Windows 7 (or even XP!)