Available for download in fourteen different languages, the much anticipated Windows 8 Release Preview is here. The pre-release includes Windows 8, Internet Explorer 10, new Windows 8 apps for connecting to Hotmail, SkyDrive, and Messenger.
The developers say that they have made hundreds of changes based on user feedback, but they are still looking for more. This is the final pre-release before the finished version becomes available, so take advantage and download a copy now.
Of course, users are precautioned with the usual warning about how it is not a finished product and is subject to change from what you see before you. In fact, the whole purpose of all of the pre-releases is to bring about change and refinement. Designers and engineers working on Windows 8 posted over 500 pages of dialog, shared 34 videos, and took 18,000 comments from 7,000 people.
According to the designers, Windows 8 is unique in the way it was created using so much real-time feedback. All the refinements were made while people were actively using the platform. Not to mention, it is replacing a Windows 7 platform which is currently being used on over 550 million PC’s. It’s a monumental accomplishment. But, it isn’t finished yet.
Here’s a word from the Windows team about the new Windows 8 Platform in the making:
“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.”
“We’ll be looking hard at every aspect of Windows 8 as we complete the work on the product, but we want to highlight the following”:
* Installation – We have significant telemetry in the setup process and also significant logging. Of course, if you can’t set up Windows 8 at all, that is something we are interested in, and the same holds for upgrades from Windows 7. Please note the specifics regarding installation requirements and cautions found on the download page.
* Security and privacy – Obviously, any vulnerability is a something we would want to address. We will use the same criteria to address these issues as we would for any in-market product.
* Reliability and responsiveness – We are monitoring the “crash” reports for issues that impact broad sets of people. These could be caused by Windows code, Microsoft or third-party drivers, or third-party apps. Information about crashes streams in “real time” to Microsoft, and we watch it very carefully. We also have a lot of new data coming on the hundreds of new apps in the Windows Store.
* Device installation and compatibility – When you download a driver from Windows Update or install a driver via a manufacturer’s setup program, we collect data about that download via the Plug and Play (PnP) ID program. We’ve seen millions of unique PnP IDs through the Consumer Preview. We also receive the IDs for devices that failed to locate drivers. We are constantly updating the Plug and Play web service with pointers to information about each device (driver availability, instructions, etc.) We actively monitor the use of the compatibility modes required when the first installation of a Windows 7 based product does not succeed.
* Software compatibility – Similar to device compatibility, we are also monitoring the installation process for software, and noting programs that do not install successfully. Again, we have the mechanism to help move that forward, and/or introduce compatibility work in the RTM milestone. Here too, we actively monitor the use of compatibility modes required when the first installation of a Windows 7-based product does not succeed. We have tested thousands of complex commercial products from around the world in preparation for the Release Preview.
* Servicing – We will continue to test the servicing of Windows 8 so everyone should expect updates to be made available via Windows Update. This will include new drivers and updates to Windows 8, some arriving very soon as part of a planned rollout. Test updates will be labeled as such. We might also fix any significant issue with new code. All of this effort serves to validate the servicing pipeline, and to maintain the quality of the Release Preview.
* New hardware – Perhaps the most important category for potential fixes comes from making sure that we work with all the new hardware being made as we all use build 8400. Our PC manufacturing partners and hardware partners are engineering new PCs, and these include hardware combinations that are new to the market and new to the OS. We’re working together to make sure Windows 8 has great support for these new PCs and hardware.
To learn more about the latest Windows pre-release follow this link. As they make mention to several times, it is not yet a finished product so you may run into some complications along the way. They say they are shooting for a holiday release for Windows 8, but that depends on many different aspects of the development process all coming together as planned. We’ll see.