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Windows 8 beta available now

Microsoft to release Consumer Preview of new version of Windows

Windows 8 will include a new 'Metro' interface, and a new logo.
Windows 8 will include a new 'Metro' interface, and a new logo.

Microsoft will launch an open beta of the upcoming Windows 8 operating system

The beta, which is being billed as a Window 8 consumer preview, will debut at the Mobile World Congress taking place in Barcelona.

The developer preview of Windows 8 was launched in September 2011, but today's launch marks the first time the general public will have access to the OS.

Windows 8 is expected to be launched later this year, and is intended to have native compatibility with tablet PCs, to run on those devices as well as laptops and desktops. The OS features a new ‘Metro' interface, which uses tiles, and Microsoft will also release a version to run on ARM processors.

Microsoft has also released a companion Windows 8 Consumer Preview Product Guide for Business, which guides businesses through the new features of the OS.

Windows Server 8 Beta will be released to MSDN subscribers on the same date.

The consumer preview will be available here.