Microsoft is busy preparing its Windows 8 public beta.
The software maker recently passed 8160.0.winmain.111122-1913 and is progressing steadily towards a beta release early next year. Rumors earlier this year pinned a beta offering for the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2012 but it appears Microsoft is not targeting a release for this particular event. The Next Web reported on Thursday that the company is planning to offer a beta copy in late February. Citing internal sources, The Next Web speculates that the feature set of the beta is not yet locked down.
Following checks with our own sources, it appears the beta will miss the CES 2012 timeframe. It is however expected to be made available in late January. Microsoft will demonstrate a near final beta copy of Windows 8 alongside a Metro version of its Office product at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, according to one source. Microsoft is planning to provide a preview copy of its next-generation Office 15 suite in late January too. Current self hosting builds internally at Microsoft are labelled as beta and Microsoft will begin an escrow phase towards its beta build sign off later this year according to another source.
Little is known about the feature set of Microsoft’s Windows 8 beta. Recently leaked screenshots indicate that Microsoft will allow users to change the Start Screen color and the Start Screen background image in beta copies of Windows 8. Microsoft has previously detailed some other minor improvements to the Windows 8 beta. Users will be able to create, name and rearrange Start Screen groups as well as navigate with the Windows 8 Apps screen in a better way. Microsoft is planning to group applications to make it easier for users to identify them in Windows 8 beta. Windows Media Center will also return to Windows 8 beta alongside the typical Windows games, DVD creator and .NET 3.5. All were missing from the developer preview, made available in September.