Windows 8 Consumer Preview available now

Microsoft's president of Windows Steve Sinofsky took to the stage over in Barcelona at MWC (well, a bus ride from MWC to be more accurate) to officially launch the Windows 8 Consumer Preview.

Describing the forthcoming OS as "a bold re-imagining of Windows", Sinofsky said that "the goal with Windows 8 is to deliver PCs without compromise". He said he wanted "a unified operating experience".

"There's too many hard stops between phones, tablets and PCs - we want it to be much more harmonious and seamless," he explained.

The Consumer Preview is said by Microsoft to boast  "significant product changes since Windows Developer Preview". It has more than 100,000 code changes from that version as well.

"It's beautiful, it's modern, it's fast, it's fluid," said the Windows boss, describing Windows 8 as a "generational change".

Microsoft's Julie Larson-Green gave the assembled tech hacks an overview of the work-in-progess OS and showed off the Xbox Live app, which offers the same sorts of features that you get with the Windows Phone 7 portal such as messages, Avatar management and game searching.

The Windows 8 Consumer Preview is available now. You can download it directly from Microsoft. You'll be able to grab it in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions in five languages: English, Chinese, French, German, and Japanese. Microsoft is saying that you'll need at least a 1GHz processor powering your chosen test device, 1GB of RAM, 16GB of free storage space and a DirectX 9-compatible graphics card.

First look: Windows 8 Consumer Preview review



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