Windows 8 Release Preview now available

The Release Preview of Windows 8 is now available for download.

Windows 8 Release Preview now available

The Release Preview will be the last trial version of the OS before the final release, according to Windows division president Steven Sinofsky. Although he didn’t give a specific RTM date, he promised hardware running Windows 8 would be available before Christmas. The RTM is widely expected to arrive in October.

For those who can’t wait until the autumn for a new PC, Microsoft has confirmed a $14.99 upgrade offer. Any Windows 7 PC bought from Saturday will be able to upgrade for that price to Windows 8 Pro.

Sinofsky thanked the millions of people who had downloaded and tried previous versions of Windows 8, saying Microsoft heard their comments. “Direct feedback and feedback through usage contributed to hundreds of visible changes in the product and tens of thousands of under-the-hood changes,” Sinofsky said.

“No other product used by so many provides such an inside view of the choices and development of the product as it evolves — and sometimes we forget that we are talking about a product still under active development even while we are discussing the designs and actively using it,” he added. “The affirmations, debates, and even disagreements play a crucial role in the development of Windows.”

Among the changes are multi-monitor support, new parental controls, revamped apps and updates to IE10. “Internet Explorer 10 also has new capabilities in the Windows 8 Release Preview like ‘flip ahead’ and a fully integrated secure and power-optimised Adobe Flash Player,” said Windows communications manager Brandon LeBlanc. “IE10 is also the first browser to feature Do Not Track ‘on’ by default.”

The focus now will be improving the “quality” of the OS, with an eye to security, reliability, and device and software compatibility, but other changes are still expected, notably to the desktop UI. “Our next milestone is traditionally called RTM, Release to Manufacturing, and from today until RTM, we will still be changing Windows 8, as we have done in past releases of Windows,” Sinofsky said.

The Release Preview can be downloaded here. Anyone trying it should be warned there’s no direct in-place upgrade from the Windows 8 Consumer Preview, with all files saved in the “Windows.old” folder.

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