The launch follows on from the Developer Preview which launched last December and is a more stable version of the OS, the full version of which is set to launch later this year.
The Consumer Preview will allow those eager to try out the new-look OS to do so ahead of the commercial launch in the second half of 2012, and will allow users to get their first taste of the new Metro-style interface.
There will be two versions of Windows 8 available in the second half of the year, one which runs on the x86-based chips from the likes of Intel and AMD and one known as Windows on ARM, which will run on the low-power ARM-based chips that power the vast majority of tablets today. However this latter version will not be available as part of the Consumer Preview.
Since the Developer Preview, Microsoft said today that it had made over 100,000 changes in Windows 8 and it now thinks of it as “complete all the way through.” The company called Windows 8 "modern, fast and fluid" and marked it as a lot different than the last time it made a generational change in Windows with Windows 95.
You can download the Consumer Preview now from Microsoft’s website here, with the minimum system requirements as follows:
Processor: 1GHz processor
RAM: 1GB (32-bit) 2GB (64-bit)
Hard Disk Space: 16GB (32-bit) or 20GB (64-bit)
Graphic Card: Microsoft DirectX 9 graphics device or higher.
We will be covering the Consumer Preview of Windows 8 in much more detail and bringing you a full preview very soon.
We’d love to hear from you if you are planning on downloading the Consumer Preview of Windows 8 and what you think of the new-look operating system.