Windows 8 'Consumer Preview' Slated for Late February
The launch of the Windows 8 Consumer Preview in Barcelona confirms an earlier announcement by Microsoft that the company planned to release the Windows 8 beta in "late February."
According to reports, Microsoft is planning to hold a Windows 8 Consumer Preview event on Feb. 29 in Barcelona, Spain, the same week as the Mobile World Congress.
The Windows 8 Consumer Preview event, to be held from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Hotel Miramar in Barcelona, was announced via e-mailed invitations.
The "consumer preview," which follows the Windows 8 Developer Preview released last September at Microsoft's Build event, is being interpreted by some observers as Microsoft's beta release. The "developer preview" was a "pre-beta" release and presenters at Build sometimes had problems with the demos being presented.
Microsoft hasn't publicized the Windows 8 release schedule, but veteran Microsoft watcher Mary Jo Foley said in a blog that Microsoft promised a release candidate and release-to-manufacturing version following the consumer preview.
Why Microsoft dropped the "beta" label with Windows 8 is up to speculation, with some observers noting that other software developers, such as Google, have tended to ignore the distinction between a beta and a final product. The growing emphasis on delivering software as a service further blurs the line, as those software updates can be delivered more rapidly than traditional "boxed" software releases. In any case, a beta likely still should be considered, at least from Microsoft's standpoint, as test software that's not ready for a production environment.
The consumer preview launch in Barcelona confirms an earlier announcement by Microsoft that it planned to release the Windows 8 beta in "late February." Presumably, the beta and online content will be available globally on Feb. 29, but Microsoft provided no details to that effect.
Kurt Mackie is online news editor, Enterprise Group, at 1105 Media Inc.