Microsoft Windows 8 Developer Preview is Now Available for Download

Microsoft has released its Windows 8 Developer Preview operating system, for PCs and tablets, to the public as a free download.

In the interest of generating as much excitement as possible for its new Windows 8 operating system, Microsoft has made the Developer Preview of the new OS available for all to download on its site. Photo: Microsoft

Can’t wait to try out Windows 8 for yourself after Microsoft’s big unveiling of the new OS at yesterday’s 2011 Build Conference? Well, you needn’t wait any longer as the developer preview version of the OS is now available as a free download. The Windows 8 Developer Preview is a pre-beta version of Windows 8 which has been released by Microsoft specifically for developers.

The Windows 8 Developer Preview requires no activation to run and some Windows 8 features may require additional hardware, or installation of other software. As updates to the software are rolled out by Microsoft they should automatically be added to your installation. However, Microsoft offers not additional support for this release.

“We reimagined Windows,” said Steven Sinofsky, president of the Windows and Windows Live Division at Microsoft, in his keynote address to the thousands of developers at the yesterday’s Build Conference. “From the chipset to the user experience, Windows 8 brings a new range of capabilities without compromise.”

Central to the new Windows platform is a touchscreen interface known as Metro that is based on large “tiles”, similar to those already used in Microsoft’s smartphone software. Photo: Microsoft

The move to release Windows 8 so early on can be seen as a testament to just how much Microsoft wants, and needs, developers to get into building apps for the new OS before it is actually released as a retail product that will compete on tablets against Apple’s iPad (running iOS) and Google’s Android software.

Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s chief executive, made a surprise appearance at Build on Wednesday and touted 500,000 downloads of Windows 8 overnight as a testament to developer interest in the new platform, according the tech blog This Is My Next.

The new Windows 8 OS from Microsoft will support both tablets and traditional PCs. To load the Windows 8 Developer Preview you will require a PC with a t least a 1GHz or faster processor (either 32- or 64-bit), supported by 1GB of RAM (2GB for 64-bit), 16GB of hard disk space (20GB for 64-bit), DirectX 9 graphics with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver. Or a touchscreen tablet if you fancy trying out the its touch gestures and tablet user interface.

“We reimagined Windows,” said Steven Sinofsky, president of the Windows and Windows Live Division at Microsoft. “From the chipset to the user experience, Windows 8 brings a new range of capabilities without compromise.”

Microsoft has made available three different versions of Windows 8 for download (two versions built for 64-bit systems which use new processors and can make use of more RAM, versus older 32-bit PCs that use earlier chips and less memory), which all show up as an ISO file when downloaded.

The three versions also vary in size and as an ISO file will need to be downloaded and burned to a DVD or installed on a bootable USB drive before being installed. The three versions, all in English, are:

  • Windows Developer Preview with developer tools, 64-bit: A 4.8-gigabyte download, this version includes Windows 8 Developer Preview operating system with a Windows software developer kit for Metro style apps made up of Microsoft Visual Studio 11 Express and Microsoft Expression Blend 5, as well as 28 preview apps.
  • Windows Developer Preview, 64-bit: A 3.6-gigbyte download, this version is made up of just the Windows 8 Developer Preview OS and the 28 preview apps — no added developer tools
  • Windows Developer Preview English, 32-bit: The smallest of the bunch, this 2.8-gigabyte download includes the Windows 8 Developer Preview OS and the 28 preview apps.

Since this is a preview version of Windows 8, it still has plenty of bugs that need to be fixed. This isn’t yet even a beta release and not polished enough for the mass market. So if you’re interested in downloading this early release, it might be a good idea to install it on a spare PC rather than your main computer. If you only have one computer, do consider the risk here.

The world’s biggest software company, whose software still runs more than 90 percent of personal computers, needs the new system to appeal to developers in the hope that they will create thousands of applications to attract users. At the same time, it needs to lure a younger, tech-savvy audience and halt the march of Apple devices into Microsoft’s business market, analysts said.

The new operating system boots up in seconds and features a home page filled with colorful tiles taking the user directly into applications such as Facebook, messaging or news feeds. It is less likely to appeal to business users, analysts said, given that many companies are still working their way toward switching to Windows 7, released in 2009.

Tuesday’s presentation included the first full demonstration of the forthcoming Windows 8, which will combine a touchscreen interface with the more traditional mouse-and-icon approach of PCs. Central to the new Windows platform is a touchscreen interface known as Metro that is based on large “tiles”, similar to those already used in Microsoft’s smartphone software.

Microsoft has sold almost 450 million Windows 7 licenses in two years since it was introduced, but the newest version still accounts for less than one-third of global Windows users, many of whom are clinging to older versions. The new system is the first to be compatible with low-power chips designed by ARM Holdings, which have become the standard for mobile devices.

Along with the first full touchscreen version of Windows, Microsoft Corp. on Tuesday showed off an array of other technology tools and online services to buttress its Windows system in the era of tablet computing. These included an online store for users to find and download lightweight “apps”, a new way for developers to write software to run on Windows, and versions of its software to run on devices such as tablets that enjoy longer battery life.

Analysts said Microsoft wants to get Windows 8 devices in stores for the “back-to-school” season next year, starting around July, or the holiday shopping season at the latest. Microsoft itself has not set a schedule publicly for release of Windows 8. [via The Next Web]

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