SOFTWARE REDEVELOPER Microsoft has given people their first real taste of its upcoming Windows 8 operating system with a release preview that is now available.
Microsoft president Steven Sinofsky introduced the final Windows 8 preview release that bundles the operating system with Internet Explorer (IE) 10, apps for Microsoft services like Hotmail, Skydrive and Messenger, and access to the Windows Store.
New features include better support for multi-monitor setups and tweaked parental controls, and the bundled IE 10 supports Do Not Track.
The final version of the Windows 8 operating system is expected to go on sale later this year, but for now we can content ourselves with something that Sinofsky says has been put through the wringer when it comes to improvements.
"Since our first preview release last September, millions of people now use the pre-release product on a daily basis and millions more have been taking it through its paces, totaling hundreds of millions of hours of testing," he said.
"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."
Visible changes include the obvious move towards tablet computers, where Microsoft has so far failed to make a mark, with the Metro interface, and the apps and Windows Store mentioned above. Sinofsky said that this is only the beginning of changes, adding that the design of Windows 8 will bring about an evolution in PCs.
"As we reimagine Windows from the chipset to the experience - new hardware support, new user interaction models, new scenarios, new APIs and more, are all enabled with Windows 8, while we bring forward and improve the way Windows 7 has been used on over 550 million PCs around the world," he adds. "Coming soon, we will see a new wave of PCs designed for Windows 8, along with new apps powered by the new Windows 8 platform."
Windows 8 has been shaped by feedback, and Sinofsky said that Microsoft will continue to listen to users and work on Windows 8 as it makes its way towards final release. Next on the schedule is release to manufacturing (RTM), and the final product will look different than the one available today.
"Our focus from now until RTM is on continuing to maintain a quality level higher than Windows 7 in all the measures we focus on, including reliability over time; security to the core; PC, software, and peripheral compatibility; and resource utilisation," he added. "In addition, we carefully monitor our forums for reproducible reports relative to PC, software, and peripheral compatibility."
Microsoft will be keeping its eye on things like people not being able to install Windows 8, interoperability issues, and security problems, among others. µ