This morning Microsoft have made the Windows 8 Consumer Preview (something we’d usually called a beta) available for download. You can locate it here and it’s available in both 32-bit and 64-bit variations.

This release is a jump forward from the Windows 8 Developer Preview made available last year. It’s likely that Windows 8 Consumer Preview will be made the primary operating system for many technology enthusiasts.

Windows 8 marks the first step away from the Windows desktop and start menu which was introduced with Windows 95 some 17 years ago. This release includes a ‘touch first’ interface that designed to be equally functional on tablets, laptops and desktop computers.

There are numerous new features that make use of the new user interface which draws from the Metro design language that Windows Phone has become known for. Also included is the Windows Store – a place to find and download apps.

Minimum system requirements are:

  • 1 GHz or faster processor
  • 1 GB RAM (32-bit install) or 2 GB RAM (64-bit install)
  • 16 GB available hard disk space (32-bit install) or 20 GB (64-bit install)
  • DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver
  • 1024 x 768 minimum screen resolution (or 1366×768 for the Snap feature)

(More information to follow)

Stay tuned to the NZ Tech Podcast as we’ll be featuring Windows 8 heavily on the next episode.