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(Pocket-lint) - The Windows 8 Consumer Preview is now available to download but before you jump for the download button you'll need to make sure of a couple of things first.

The biggest one to remember is that while Microsoft is calling it a Consumer Preview, what that really means is that it is a Beta for you to try and therefore is likely to crash, have bugs, be unstable and basically act like it isn't a finished product.

Depending on how you view beta trials - virtually every Google product is still in one - will dictate whether you want to download the Windows 8 Consumer Preview to your main computer, but bear in mind that the phrase, "But sir, Windows 8 ate my homework" probably isn't going to wash in the real world.

That dilemma out of the way you'll also need to make sure your machine is capable of running the software.

Windows 8 Consumer Preview should run on the same hardware that powers Windows 7 today says Microsoft. In particular the specs you are looking for are:

- 1 GHz or faster processor

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- 1 GB RAM (32-bit) or 2 GB RAM (64-bit)

- 16 GB available hard disk space (32-bit) or 20 GB (64-bit)

- DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM 1.0 or higher drive

- 1024 x 768 minimum screen resolution

That's all fine and dandy, but if you really want to experience the full power of the new OS you will need a couple of other bits too.

In order to use the Snap feature, you will need a PC with a 1366x768 resolution or higher and most importantly if you want to use touch, you’ll need a multitouch-capable laptop, tablet, or display.

Unless you are willing to fork out for the latest HP all-in-one models, that's going to be a little bit harder, but if you are desperate try the new Windows 8 take a look on eBay for the Samsung preview tablet dished out to all those that attended BUILD last year.

Oh and of course you'll need the internet if you want to download apps. 

Windows 8 Consumer Preview available now

First look: Windows 8 Consumer Preview review

Writing by Stuart Miles.