The Windows 8 Release Preview & Windows Upgrade Offer – #windows8

In a blog post earlier today on Building Windows 8, Steven announced that the Windows 8 Release Preview is now available for folks to download! I suggest reading his blog post as it discusses this very important milestone. The Windows 8 Release Preview marks the final phase of development before releasing to manufacturing (RTM), however we’re not finished just yet and there is more to come (and more work to be done). But we are feeling really good about the progress of the product today.

Windows 8 represents a reimaging of Windows. As you can see in the above video, Windows 8 delivers a fast, fluid and no-compromise experience.

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There are many improvements and refinements across the Windows 8 Release Preview that folks will see right away, while others are under the hood. For instance, you will find more personalization options for the Start screen (including more colors!), improved multi-monitor support, and new Family Safety features to name just a few. People will also notice and enjoy improvements to the Mail, Photos, and People apps and see new Bing-powered Travel, News and Sports apps. Internet Explorer 10 also has new capabilities in the Windows 8 Release Preview like “flip ahead” and a fully integrated secure and power-optimized Adobe Flash Player. IE10 is also the first browser to feature Do Not Track “on” by default. The improvements and refinements seen in the Windows 8 Release Preview result in a better overall experience that I think everyone will enjoy!

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For Developers:

Windows 8 presents a huge opportunity for developers to build great new apps for a variety of form factors. If you’re a developer looking to get started developing apps with the Windows 8 Release Preview, I suggest reading this blog post from the Windows 8 app developer blog and this blog post from the Windows Store for developers blog. These two posts will have a lot of information, like where to go to grab the latest tools to begin app development. Developers can also visit the Windows Dev Center for more information on the Windows developer platform and what it means for the Windows 8 Release Preview. In the Windows Store today with the Windows 8 Release Preview, you will notice a lot of incredible new apps – this is just the beginning!

For Businesses:

For enterprise customers wanting to know more about what the Windows 8 Release Preview means for them – I suggest reading this blog post from Erwin Visser on the Windows for your Business Blog. The Windows 8 Release Preview provides a great opportunity to experience and try out new capabilities in Windows 8 specifically designed with businesses in mind.

For Consumers:

Are you really excited about all the new PCs available today but thinking about waiting for Windows 8? Well you don’t have to. We are also announcing today that starting on June 2nd, 2012, Microsoft will roll out the Windows Upgrade Offer in 131 markets including the US and Canada. Consumers who purchase eligible Windows 7 PCs that are preinstalled with Windows 7 Home Basic, Home Premium, Professional, or Ultimate and include a matching and valid OEM Certificate of Authenticity through January 31, 2013 will be able to purchase an upgrade to Windows 8 Pro for $14.99 (U.S.) which will be redeemable when Windows 8 is generally available (the program expires in February 2013). For more on the editions of Windows 8, see this blog post. When consumers register for the Windows Upgrade Offer, they will be able to download Windows 8 Pro starting the day it’s made generally available and the upgrade comes with 90 days of support from Microsoft.

Go give the Windows 8 Release Preview a try! And we’ll of course be talking more about Windows 8 throughout the summer including at Computex, TechEd North America, TechEd Europe, and the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference.

Download the Windows 8 Release Preview!

Before you download and install the Windows 8 Release Preview: it is important to note that like the Windows 8 Consumer Preview, it is pre-release software. If you are comfortable running preview software on your PC and ok with doing a few technical tasks (like formatting a hard drive) here and there, then you’ll probably do just fine with the Windows 8 Release Preview. If you are on the Windows 8 Consumer Preview, please make sure you read the Windows 8 Release Preview FAQ for important information on moving to the Windows 8 Release Preview. As always, before moving to a pre-release operating system, make sure you back up your files. The best way to provide feedback is to participate in the Windows 8 Release Preview forum. We don’t offer technical support for prerelease software, which includes the Windows 8 Release Preview.

If you have a mouse or keyboard from Microsoft Hardware, I suggest giving the Microsoft Device Center Beta release a try. Device Center allows you to easily customize your Microsoft mouse and keyboard experience in Windows 8 and is compatible with the Windows 8 Release Preview. Device Center helps bring the touch experience to your mouse within the Windows 8 Release Preview as well if you have an Explorer Touch Mouse and Touch Mouse. Microsoft Hardware will have more details to share regarding their Touch Portfolio of products sometime around Windows 8 general availability.

Stay tuned for my follow-up blog post on my experience with Windows 8. I’ll provide detailed thoughts, tips and tricks on the Windows 8 Release Preview, as I’m currently running it on all my PCs today, and it has really changed the way I use my PCs.