Windows 8 preview launch set for late February: Microsoft

Microsoft will take the wraps off a "consumer preview" version of its Windows 8 OS at an event in Spain later this month. 

Windows 8 will get a 'preview' launch later this month. Here, the exterior of a Microsoft retail store is shown at a shopping mall in San Diego.

Microsoft announced today a launch date for a "consumer preview" version of Windows 8, the long-awaited update to its flagship operating system. Microsoft will take the wraps off the new OS on February 29, during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. But according to Computerworld, Windows 8 will get its own separate event, at a local hotel – the better, presumably, to cater to a small army of curious reporters. 

So hey, why isn't this Windows 8 preview emblazoned with a "beta" sticker? In a post over at ZDNet, Ed Bott argues that the "widespread use" of the phrase "beta" has "muddled its meaning beyond repair."

If Microsoft had filed the release under beta, "Old-school Windows beta testers would be demanding to know where to file bug reports, while the real target market might be scared off by the 'don’t get mad at us' asterisk," Bott writes. 

Instead, Microsoft is signaling that the Windows 8 preview is for all users – not just the hardened geeks. 

As we noted yesterday, it seems that Microsoft will strip from Windows 8 the iconic Start button, long an integral part of the Microsoft Windows experience. In its place, users will get something called a "hot corner," which will be available on tablet and desktop versions of the new Windows OS. 

Microsoft has framed Windows 8 as a particularly versatile operating system, fit for the modern computing landscape, which includes both traditional laptops and tablets computers. The interface on Windows 8, currently dubbed Metro, will run on both types of machines, Microsoft has said. As the team at Ars Technica notes today, "this is a desktop operating system that won't be confined to the desktop."

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