Microsoft has just launched the Windows 8 Consumer Preview, which is available as a public download right now. The company previewed their latest build of Windows 8 at a Mobile World Congress event this morning in Barcelona, showing off features such as the new touch-friendly Metro UI and Windows Store.
The Consumer Preview weighs in at 2.5GB for the 32-bit version, and 3.3GB for the 64-bit version, so make sure you have some free time and plenty of free bandwidth before you start the download. Any computer equipped with a 1GHz or faster CPU can run the Consumer Preview, with the 32-bit version requiring only 1GB of RAM and 16GB of hard drive space, and the 64-bit version limited to at least 2GB of RAM and 20GB of free disk space.
Windows 8 is a complete re-imagining and redesign of the Windows desktop operating system. The desktop, while still present, has essentially been replaced by a Metro UI style Start screen, featuring the same modern design and LiveTiles as seen in Windows Phone 7. Windows 8 was built to work on a number of form factors, including traditional desktops, laptops, ultrabooks, and tablets. Following their event in Barcelona this morning, Microsoft published a blog post introducing the Windows 8 Consumer Preview, detailing the new design, touch gestures, apps, and more.
Microsoft first announced Windows 8 at CES 2011, confirming support for the ARM architecture and showing off the new Metro UI. A developer preview was launched in September 2011 at Microsoft’s BUILD Conference, and today’s Consumer Preview marks the first time that Windows 8 is available to the public. The final version of Windows 8 is expected to ship this fall.
If you’re ready to give Windows 8 a try for yourself, you can download the Consumer Preview now at this link. Our own Micah Singleton will be publishing his hands-on impressions of Windows 8 soon.