Today is a big day for the Windows team. At Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain a few moments ago, we unveiled the Windows 8 Consumer Preview to our partners and press. Based on a broad range of feedback, we have made over 100,000 code changes and the Consumer Preview represents a refined product ready for broad and daily usage by those of you willing to test a pre-release OS. You can download the Consumer Preview starting now at http://preview.windows.com. If you tried the Windows 8 Developer Preview, then you are going to be delighted to see a broad range of product changes and improvements based on a feedback from many sources.

Windows 8 reimagines Windows, from the chipset to the experience. With the Developer Preview we focused on presenting the new APIs and amazing new tools for developers. Today’s Consumer Preview is focused on a broader audience, and along with improvements to the WinRT APIs based on developer feedback, we are introducing the full user experience, the Windows Store for apps, and early previews of some first- and third-party apps.

With so much to dive into, let’s talk about what is different in the Consumer Preview at a high level:

  • Broad range of product changes and improvements: Since the Developer Preview in September, designed to preview the programming platform, Windows 8 has progressed across every dimension. From completing the user experience for touch, keyboard, and mouse, to refining the development platform, to improving performance, quality, and reliability across all subsystems as well as new features, the Consumer Preview represents a complete view of the capabilities of Windows 8.
  • Windows Store with an “App Preview” of new apps: The Windows 8 Consumer Preview marks the opening of the Windows Store for testing. You’ll see a variety of new Metro style apps from both third-party developers and Microsoft. During the Consumer Preview, these apps are available to try and experience at no cost to users. Please note, these apps and the set of preinstalled apps are at an early stage of development and are available as an early App Preview, and will be updated via the Windows Store. In addition, the Store will offer personalized recommendations, and Windows 8 gives users the ability to take their apps and settings with them across multiple PCs, making it easy to discover and try new apps while offering developers the greatest opportunity of any platform
  • Connecting to the cloud across Windows PCs and Windows Phones: You’ll experience seamless integration with the content across your web services. Optionally signing in with a Microsoft account provides access to features including the ability to roam all settings, use cloud storage, communicate with email, calendar, and contacts, and connect to a broad range of services. Your connection to the cloud works across your Windows PCs and your Windows Phones. You’ll also experience early previews of the Metro style apps for Mail, Calendar, People, Messaging, Photos, and SkyDrive.
  • Internet Explorer 10 Platform Preview 5: With IE10, we reimagined the browser to create a new experience designed specifically for Windows 8 devices. It provides an edge to edge interface that is all about less browser, and more web. Fast and fluid, IE is hardware-accelerated to enable web performance. The same rendering engine and high-performance script engine is available on the Windows desktop as well.

Read More on the Consumer Preview Home Page or on the Windows Team Blog article:  Introducing Windows 8 Consumer Preview