Windows 8, the most critical Windows release for Microsoft in every possible terms was unveiled in “Consumer Preview” form at Mobile World Congress held in Barcelona. Windows 8 Developer Preview was released previously, mainly targeted to woo developers to develop apps for the next generation Windows platform.
Windows 8 is the first complete redesign of the Microsoft’s most popular product in almost two decades. Windows 8 comes with a whole new interface called the “Metro” aimed at providing a unified experience for all the platforms. But there has been wide outcries against the effectiveness Metro especially on the PC and we had summarized why Windows 8 could fail based upon our hands on experience with Windows 8 Developer Preview. Hopefully the scenario will change completely with Windows 8 beta a.k.a Consumer Preview. Our complete review of Windows 8 Consumer Preview will be up very soon.
Featuring over 100,000 code changes since the release of Windows Developer Preview, Windows 8 comes one step closer to release. Here are the main updates in the consumer Preview
The Windows App Store is now fully functional and contains large number of apps which were selected via various competitions held via Microsoft since the BUILD event last year.
Metro has received lots of improvement following the developer Preview and now it features docking of apps to the screen, mouse hot corners and much more.
The Consumer Preview now includes dozens new feature complete apps like People, Bing Maps, XBOX Live Games (you read it right!), Kindle , Calendar, Messages and more.
Windows 8 Consumer Preview offers seamless cloud connectivity across the devices running Windows and Windows Phone via Microsoft SkyDrive.
It has also received many performance improvements which were documented extremely well in the build Windows blog since the release of the Developer preview are carried forward through in the Consumer Preview and one can easily expect better battery life, even faster performance, improved stability and more.
Last but not the least, Internet Explorer 10 Consumer Preview is included in this release of Windows Consumer Preview.
Windows 8 is supposed to work fine on any machine meeting the recommend specifications fro Windows 7 / Vista. Here are the recommended specifications for optimal experience
- 1 GHz or Faster Processor
- 2 GB RAM for 64 Bit and 1 GB for 32 Bit edition : 2 GB is sufficient for smooth performance even for x64 edition.
- 16 GB disk space for 32 Bit and 20 GB for 64 Bit: 35-40 GB should be your partition size if you plan to use Windows on daily basis.
- GPU supporting atleast Direct X 9.0 and WDDM 1.0
- Internet Connection [for windows updates and better overall user experience]
How to try out the Beta?
There are many ways to try out the Windows 8 Consumer Preview
You can either use the Windows 8 Consumer Preview Setup which checks the compatibility of your currently installed programs and devices and generates a compatibility report. It also downloads the appropriate architecture of the beta (x86 or x64) from which you can set up a bootable USB or DVD.
Download: Windows 8 Consumer Preview Setup
Another way is to directly download the ISO image for your architecture and make a USB drive bootable or directly burn the image on to a DVD. You can choose three ways to use the preview
- Direct Upgrade: You can upgrade directly from all previous versions of Windows including the Developer Preview. If you can upgrade from Windows 7 you can keep the programs intact as well.
You will lose your programs if you upgrade from Windows Developer Preview/ Vista/ XP to Windows 8 Beta.
- Installation on another Partition: You can install Windows 8 Beta on a different partition to dual boot with Windows 7/ Vista. Your files on Windows 7 partition will be completely safe this way, and you will not loose any programs. Make sure you allocate atleast 40 GB space if you are planning to use the preview on a day to day basis.
- Testing on a Virtual Machine : If you do not want to mess around with your boot loader, the safest way is to install Windows 8 Beta on a Virtual Machine. Follow our guide to install Windows 8 on a Virtual Machine using Virtual Box for detailed instructions.
We recommend you to use the Windows Consumer Preview Setup instead of ISO because it checks all your apps and drivers for compatibility and automatically downloads the appropriate version for your architecture.
Download: Windows 8 Consumer Preview Setup
You can also use the ISO’s instead. You need to use Microsoft Windows USB creator for creating bootable USB drive or you can directly burn the ISO to the DVD.
Use the following serial for the ISO’s : DNJXJ-7XBW8-2378T-X22TX-BKG7J
Download: Windows 8 Consumer Preview x64 ISO [3.3 GB]
Download: Windows 8 Consumer Preview x32 ISO [2.5 GB]