Microsoft on Thursday rolled out a near-complete version of its new operating system Windows 8 for consumers to try out, another key step in the company's effort to reboot its flagship software for a computing era dominated by mobile gadgets such as Apple's iPhone.
Microsoft in recent months has launched early test editions of Windows 8 for software developers and for consumers, but the introduction of the so-called Release Preview Thursday is a sign the Redmond, Wash., company has locked in the form and features of its software. That's a crucial step for the company and for the slew of PC makers and independent software developers in Microsoft's orbit.
'We’re thrilled to be at this milestone with the Windows 8 Release Preview.'
- Steven Sinofsky, president of the Windows division at Microsoft
"We're thrilled to be at this milestone with the Windows 8 Release Preview," said Steven Sinofsky, president of Microsoft's Windows division.
Analysts say the timing of the release preview indicates the broad launch of Windows 8 should be in September or October. The release preview can be downloaded on Microsoft's site.
With Microsoft now nearly finished with its next-generation operating system, attention will turn to Microsoft's hardware partners such as Dell, Lenovo and Hewlett-Packard to prepare new PCs that show off the Microsoft software.
Windows through the ages: the history of the world's most popular OS
Vintage Apple computer handmade by Jobs and Wozniak up for auction
Air Force's secretive X-37B space plane to land
US grants Virgin Galactic experimental permit for space tourism
In pictures: Windows 8, Microsoft's most radical OS yet
At next week's Computex trade show in Taiwan, many PC makers for the first time will be showing off touch-screen laptops and other new devices slated for the launch of Microsoft's new operating system.
Read more on Microsoft's new version of Windows at The Wall Street Journal.