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Is the Windows 8 beta to be dubbed “consumer preview” instead?

New rumours are suggesting that the Windows 8 beta may be dubbed the “consumer preview” instead of being called a “beta” to help interest a wider range of users to help submit feedback for the companys next operating system.

Microsoft did something new this year, during the BUILD conference. What we all were looking forward to was a beta, but what we got was the Developer Preview, which was not a beta. Yes, we can argue why. It was in the Milestone 3 stage at the time, and Microsoft never made reference to a possible beta at the time, but why else? They wanted to release a version to give software developers time to make apps compatible with the new Metro user interface. Lacking the main features that was looked forward to, like Metro Media Player, and the Metro File Manager, it’s easy to say now, we’ve seen nothing yet. But now we can ask: Is this the path Microsoft is taking?

According to TheNextWeb, Microsoft may be doing this for many reasons. The Developer Preview was strictly for developers, and as you could tell was not too suitable for consumer use, but was “built for that exact audience” to just develop apps. The consumer preview however, will be “a slew of apps and tools and settings designed for the average person, and not the tech community.” It’s pretty self explanatory, but that’s also what Microsoft wanted to do. They wanted to make their “test” releases a bit more clearer to the tech community to fit their special needs. Otherwise, we’d rely on the beta for everything. This is also because the developer preview was certainly not even close to being beta, and the tremendous amount of bugs and flaws were iminous that Windows 8 would be coming out later than we thought. Assuming now that Microsoft is confident that Windows 8 is “free enough of bugs, [now] any person with a computer can give it a swing and find it to be usable.”

It may seem odd, but Microsoft has been doing this for a while. At PDC2008, Microsoft released a developer preview on Windows 7, and so was Longhorn build 5048 when it was released during WinHEC 2005. Even way back in 1999, when Windows Neptune was released for developers, it was dubbed the developer preview (build 5111), until the program was scrapped for Windows ME. What I think, is that Microsoft is trying to make their beta program(s) a bit more noticable by giving them “easier names” to get more feedback. Microsoft certainly wants Windows 8 to be great, but with Windows 7 being a huge success, they certainly don’t want another Vista.

Remember, this is not confirmed and therefore should be taken with a grain of salt.

The Windows 8 Consumer Preview is expected to be “voted on” by Microsoft employees after the build (expected to be 8200) is compiled on January 30th. The “CP” will be released to a broader range of testers before being released to the public in late February. A leak could be “immanent” but is not expected.

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