Six months on from its Developer Preview, Microsoft has released the second advance version of Windows 8, this time aiming it squarely at consumers – albeit ones with plenty of tech nous.
In a post on the Windows 8 blog, Microsoft’s Kent Walter warns potential Windows 8 Consumer Preview testers that they’ll need to be ‘OK with a little troubleshooting’ if they want to give it a shot.
"If a list of hardware specs is a little overwhelming for you, or you’re not sure what you’d do if something unexpected happened, this might not be the time to dive in,” Walter says.
If you think you’re up to it, though, there’s some cool stuff on offer in the preview.
For example, testers will get to try out Microsoft’s ‘charms’, the new way to ‘get around the operating system and do common tasks’. Basically, they’re shortcuts for tasks like searching and sharing; they are accessed by moving the mouse to the upper right hand corner of the screen, or swiping from the right for touch screen users (who are, of course, the ones Windows 8 is all about).
What’ll really be interesting, though, is the Windows Store, which is on show for the first time. Competing with the Mac App Store will be a big challenge for Microsoft, so they’ll be keen to make sure users are happy with the way apps are presented, highlighted, and ranked. All the apps in the store are currently free.
In a surprise move, Microsoft has also included an advanced look at Internet Explorer 10 with the Windows 8 preview, saying the browser will be the only browser to ‘dedicate your entire screen, edge to edge, to your websites’.
"Websites extend over your whole screen, and tabs and navigation controls appear only when you need them,” Walter writes.