Microsoft has delivered Windows 8 Release Preview, the companys final prerelease edition of its new operating system, including Windows 8, Internet Explorer 10, new Windows 8 apps for connecting to Hotmail, SkyDrive, and Messenger and more.
In a May 31 blog post, Steven Sinofsky, president of Windows at Microsoft, said a key goal for Windows 8 is to maintain higher levels of quality than Windows 7, which has done rather well to date550 million PCs and counting.
Coming soon, we will see a new wave of PCs designed for Windows 8, along with new apps powered by the new Windows 8 platform, Sinofsky said.
Windows 8 Release Preview is available for download today in 14 languages . The Windows 8 Release Preview delivers a fast and fluid experience, along with a new user interface that responds equally well to touch as it does to keyboard and mouse, Microsoft said.
Microsoft delivered a Developer Preview of Windows 8 at its BUILD conference in September 2011. And since the February release of Windows 8 Consumer Preview, which was downloaded more than a million times in the first 24 hours, Windows 8 has become the most tested Microsoft operating system of all time, and with the May 31 release, it enters its final phase of development before its release to manufacturing (RTM).
Were thrilled to be at this milestone with the Windows 8 Release Preview, Sinofsky said in a statement.
Ed Bott at ZDNet says Windows 8 is all about the apps:
“The underlying operating system is solid, reliable, full-featured and impressively fast. But its no longer the star. The apps included with Windows 8 are the true stars of the new OS. Out of the box, a Windows 8 device will include a full suite of robust apps to handle communications (mail and messaging), digital media and information.The built-in apps in the Windows 8 Release Preview are light-years ahead of the rudimentary “app previews” that were included with the Consumer Preview release. Collectively, they leverage Microsofts enormous multi-year investments in productivity software, digital media, and online services.“
Windows 8 Release Preview delivers new apps from Microsoft and its partners. Highlights include Bing Travel, News and Sports apps, as well as Gaming and Music Xbox apps that integrate with Zune pass. The Windows 8 Release Preview also features improvements to the Mail, Photos and People apps that initially debuted with the Windows 8 Consumer Preview. In addition, Microsoft has worked closely with its partners to deliver apps from around the world through the Windows Store.
Microsoft Says Customers Will See Tens of Thousands of Refinements
Beyond the new apps from Microsoft and partners, customers testing the Windows 8 Release Preview will also experience tens of thousands of refinements across the product, such as increased personalization options for the start screen, improved multi-monitor support, refinements to the way people find and download apps through the Windows Store, and new Family Safety features. The new Internet Explorer 10 redefines browsing, particularly for touch-enabled devices. The Web is as fast and fluid as any app, and with new capabilities in the Windows 8 Release Preview such as flip ahead, it is just as intuitive, Microsoft said in a press release.
In addition, a touch-friendly and power-optimized Adobe Flash Player is now integrated into Internet Explorer 10, and it also features Do Not Track on by default, giving customers more choice and control over their privacy.
Beginning June 2, Microsoft will roll out the Windows Upgrade Offer in 131 markets, including the United States and Canada. Consumers who buy eligible Windows 7-based PCs through Jan. 31, 2013, can purchase an upgrade to Windows 8 Pro for an estimated retail price of $14.99 during the time of the promotion. More information about the Windows Upgrade Offer will be available June 1. In addition to the Windows Upgrade Offer designed for consumers buying new Windows 7-based PCs, Microsoft will also announce other offers in the coming months that will help consumers with existing Windows 7-based PCs upgrade to Windows 8 when it is generally available.
As for what comes next, Sinofsky said:
“Our next milestone is traditionally called RTM, Release to Manufacturing, and from today until RTM, we will still be changing Windows 8, as we have done in past releases of Windows. We thought it would be a good idea to outline the kinds of feedback we are acting on as millions download and use the Windows 8 Release Preview.Our focus from now until RTM is on continuing to maintain a quality level higher than Windows 7 in all the measures we focus on, including reliability over time; security to the core; PC, software, and peripheral compatibility; and resource utilization. We will rely heavily on the telemetry built into the product from setup through usage to inform us of the real-world experience over time of the Release Preview. In addition, we carefully monitor our forums for reproducible reports relative to PC, software, and peripheral compatibility. ¦“
He said the company will pay particular attention to installation, security and privacy, reliability and responsiveness, device installation and compatibility, software compatibility, servicing and new hardware.
In the next month, Microsoft will further detail the value Windows 8 brings to businesses at TechEd North America. The new OS is expected to RTM this summer and ship in October.