CNET Editors' Take
Windows 8. It sounds so innocent.
The name of Microsoft's coming operating system, updated today to Windows 8 Release Preview, implies just another version of an OS once much loved and now much maligned. But Windows 8 means much more to Microsoft: It's a bold attempt to build an Apple-proof operating system with modern visual elements via the risky Metro design language. It's a salvo in the war for tablet relevance. It insists that touch screens matter, and it sets the stage for upcoming versions of Windows Mobile.
For Microsoft to succeed with Windows on all platforms, Windows 8 has to work. The changes in today's Release Preview take a step in the right direction, tightening up the operating system and introducing new apps to showcase just what Windows 8 can do. But Microsoft isn't there yet. This is more "beta two" than "release candidate."
It's true that the Windows 8 Release Preview has a lot going for it, and people are curious. Microsoft says the Windows 8 Consumer Preview, which debuted at Mobile World Congress in February, is "the most tested Microsoft operating system of all time," with more than 1 million downloads during its first 24 hours of public availability. It's tricked out with social networking and synchronization, it's robust enough to handle monster suites like Adobe's, it gracefully moves from touch to keyboard and mouse, and it's got some top-notch security. What you'll find in the Release Preview is a stable, fast operating system that's ready to compete, but a selection of default apps that are far from complete.
You can get the Windows 8 Release Preview from Microsoft's site, or CNET Download.com. Microsoft has revealed the Windows 8 upgrade plan for Windows 7 computers purchased after June 2.