Windows 8 beta currently on track for January, demo at CES

By Tom Warren, on 1st Dec 11 11:58 pm with 74 Comments

Windows 8 laptop

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.

  • Adriel Dennis Mingo

    Currently running the Dev preview on my side netbook and it’s almost running like a dream. Can’t wait for media center and the other beta additions. Windows 8 has to be a hit!

    • Microsoft Windows 8 User

      Same Here. :3

    • TCTV

      Not a chance, dude.

      Get back in touch with reality – interest in a Windows 8 tablet is already on its way to zero, with Apple and Amazon already dominating both the upper and lower ends of the market and both likely to release at least two more iterations of their already dominant products before Windows 8 goes from RTM to obscurity.

      They blew it with both their ‘one OS to rule them all’ and phony interest in HTML5 and JavaScript.  Should have let Allard and the XBox gang rock the world with their version of Courier back when they had the chance, but no, arrogance and hubris won out instead, leaving Microsoft with very, very bleak prospects for the future.

      But I do enjoy reading all of the nonsense posted by those about a year from drowning in all the Kool-Aid… 

    • Anonymous

      dont underestimate microsoft u have these kindle fires and ipads on shelfs there isn’t a real competitor yet. consumers know the Windows brand name they have been using it for years with the live tiles, metro features and smooth AI + Office can turn peoples attention away from iPad and Kindle Fires

    • Adriel Dennis Mingo

      Well you just watch and see for yourself. I’m quite confident in what I say. If I’m drowning in Windows Kool-Aid you’re probably already drowned in Apple’s or Androids. 

      Win 8 will be the start of the one of the most revolutionary things to hit computing platforms. I’m quite confident that Microsoft is right now putting together some amazing things while everyone else is fawning over the present successes of Android and iOS.

       Also you need to get over being butt-hurt about the niche driven Courier project. And who’s knows if some courier parts won’t show up in future Windows tabs? that’s how MSFT works, they take parts from concepts/failed products and work them into other projects and voila! a killer product arises, e.g. Zune is now in Windows phone.

      In conclusion I wonder if you’ve ever noticed that in MSFT’s vision of the future video that everything seems lightweight and flexible and efficient/smooth and live? I have a feeling those will be these same HTML5 apps that are being developed for Win 8 today except that in the future they’ll be transformed into Metro UI 2.0 or whatever v# and take on a more futuristic look and feel. Phony interest in HTML5? I don’t think so sir.

    • Shameer Mulji

      “Win 8 will be the start of the one of the most revolutionary things to hit computing platforms.”

      How so? Please explain.

    • Anonymous

      @facebook-1685212657:disqus Its the first real departure from the Win95 interface in almost two decades.  Basically, if you consider Win95 to be a revolution in the computer industry (which it was), then you will have to see Windows 8 as a revolution.  Whether you like the new interface or not, you had to admit this is a pretty big deal as MS is for the first time moving beyond the desktop GUI interface.  Also remember that this may be the first OS that was really built to work across form factors; tablet, TV, Desktop/Laptop, (and in a way, the phone).  So I don’t know if I would say its the MOST revolutionary thing, that would probably be the transistor, but it is a pretty revolutionary development.

    • Guest

      @facebook-1685212657:disqus Like Adriel said, go watch Microsoft’s vision of the future videos. It’s quite clear what Microsoft is going after with Windows 8 and Windows Phone, I’m surprised more analysts haven’t caught on yet. Microsoft is looking to aggregate all of your digital information (contacts, Facebook, Twitter, music, photos, calendar, etc.) into an interface that really gives the user total control, seamlessly manipulates your data across all of your applications, and is synchronized across every device you use.

      This is where Apple’s vision is flawed. If you look at apps in iOS, each app is it’s own sandbox. An iOS app has very little ability to extend it’s data throughout iOS as a whole and to other iOS apps. In contrast, Windows 8 and Windows Phone is designed in a way that as you add more apps, the data from those apps is tightly aggregated throughout the whole OS. Data brought in from some sort of “photo” app is seamlessly accessible through your Facebook, Twitter, or Picasa app. You don’t have to build in integration on a per app basis, the OS integrates it for you. That’s what the revolution is.

    • Jeff Kibuule

      Since when is the general public ever interested in an unreleased product that’s almost a year away from release? Heck, a person knowing Windows 8 even exists would be a statistical outlier already!

    • Anonymous

      +1000!  I get pretty mad at all the idiot bloggers talking about that dumb Forester report.  I gave a presentation to my co-workers on Windows 8.  Before I presented, none of them knew what it was or were interested.  After I presented, they now want to learn more and I will be doing follow up sessions.  So ofcoarse people arent interested in a product they dont even know about.  But when they see it, they like it!

    • Anonymous

      Wow, talk about drowning in Kool-Aid.  The Courier was a cool concept and all, but do you honestly think it was more important strategy wise than Windows 8?  I have been using the developer preview, and while there is room for improvement in the UI, I would have to say MS has succeded in creating a user interface that spans the tablet, TV, and desktop.  If you cannot understand the implications of that then I suggest you just keep to your dumb self.  I’m not trying to be personal, it’s just hard to reason with people who can’t comprehend the significance of a unified application/UI framework across those form factors.

    • Guest

      Agree with most of that. But I think MS took too long and it’s too late. Apple and Google (via Android) are now holding too many aces, while MS’s strength, PCs, is being disrupted.

      Nokia and W8 will help a bit in phones and tablets. But I don’t think either will be enough to turn things around and maintain growth. And when growth ends, which could be only a few quarters away, panic will set in and then things will spiral down. The market sees it too. This year alone, MS’s decade leadership in market cap has been lost to not just Apple but also IBM. And now Google is a few weeks or month or two from being next.

      It pains me to say this because I’m mostly an MS user, but a decade of mistakes and missed opportunities may have finally caught up with them.

    • Anonymous

      Agreed 100%… A unified architecture will win over a fragmented architecture any day of the week.

      Microsoft’s federated cloud designs combined with the unified phone, tablet, and PC will be a killer quad combo to contend against. Recently GE & Microsoft partnered to do the same thing across the health care market in order to unify the OS infrastructures.

      There recent moves with Kinect integration by offering licensing of the hardware platform into TV’s was a smart move. The game of chess is not always visible unless you know how to play the game… 

      Perhaps TCTV cannot understand the complex business strategies here?

    • Mark Richey

      Don’t forget this isn’t just about tablets. Windows 8 will also change how we view our desktop and notebooks as well. Android may once again have the advantage of multiple platforms, but the reason Windows has dominated the market for as long as it has is it can run on nearly everything. Even die-hard Mac users likely have emulation software on their machines to run windows to allow the use of software not available on their platform.

      Adding ARM devices is one thing, but considering my lowly-not up-to the task Windows 7 tablet now boots in 17 seconds is just the tip of the iceberg of what all platforms will find. And again, consumers will have a choice and many likely eventually find iPads and Droid pads lacking in features, power, and ecosystem.

    • Guest

      You’re a broken record TC, or LittleC, or whatever alias you’re using at the moment.

    • Bwedding

      You blew any credibilty when you argued that Courier shouldn’t have been canned.

    • Seth_p

      Living in a small box must be cutting your oxygen off, eh? 

    • Martyn Metalous

      Just because something happening now, does not mean it will happen in the future.

      Phony interest in HTML5, you mean the first browser to support it, you mean its an intregal part of  the new Visual Studio, that benchmarks of IE performance is essentially, the best. You mean that phony? Crikey, I would hate to see MS “interested” in something.

      Courier?!?! Is that the best argument you have? A concept, like many that MS produce.

      Windows 7 was too late, look what happened.

      MS brings backward compatiblity and enterprise solutions to tablets, something businesses are crying out for, so b2b wise MS is on a huge win. As for the consumer, I feel the UI will bring many to seriously look at Win8 Tablets.

      Please do go on, love to hear more

    • Rob

      Really? I think MS is on the virge of something BIG! Windows 8 is an OS designed to align all platforms so you can be more productive at work and play. Is it a bad idea? I don’t think so this is something Apple and Google want but lack the ability to do so. MS is about to unite the smartphone, tablet, pc, cloud and corporate eco-systems into ONE BIG HAPPY FAMILY! 

    • Guest

      It is…imploding.

    • Anonymous

      Yeah, they absolutely blew it when they sold 1.7 million units of XBOX. Yup, they blew it again when every cable provider on the planet integrated with XBOX. Blew it again when Bing searches increased 15% in Nov.

      Yup, they really blew it when they tied Kinect into Windows 8 for an entirely new enterprise experience. Gee, they certainly blew it when they unified the core design to make it easier for developers to port cross platforms.

      They just totally blew it when they partnered with Nokia, one of the largest cell phone makers on the planet. Certain they will blow it bad next year with “Operation Rolling Thunder”. 

      Hey, speaking of Kool-Aid, I think your at the bottom of the grape flavored swimming pool wishing you had air… LMAO. 

      Go hug your MAC and see if it floats very well.

    • Guest

      What’s not running? If it’s Metro apps, you knows there’s a resolution hack for netbooks, right?

    • PC`EliTiST

       Uhm… Of course it will run like a dream… It’s still Win7 what you’re running currently.

  • Anonymous

    the article says late February in first paragraph and late January in second…which is it?

    • Guest

      Did you even read the article properly?

    • Anonymous

      late feb cited from another article and late jan is expected…is that the difference you want to point out?

  • Michael Hole

     I wonder if Media Center has been updated for the metro style? I know it is already close, but it would be good to see it seamlessly integrated :)

    • Penta2100

      And on the video library slide it will preivew your videos w/out sound
      well it would be cool if it did

    • Ian Easson

      Well, Media Center was one of the major influences for the Metro GUI.  So, in my opinion, it BETTER be a Metro app.

    • Zhir

      The only thing that matters is that the new Mediacenter *looks* like a Metro app. Whether it technically is one or not, is irrelevant. Customers couldn’t tell the difference since it’s a full-screen app with a Metro look&feel.

    • Tim Mariner

      Media Center is the OG metro application!

    • Anonymous

      I thought MC was the first “metro” app.

    • Jeff Kibuule

      I have a feeling that the Windows Media Center app in Windows 8 is going to deal with just live/recorded TV so that there isn’t any overlap with other built-in system apps. Here are the reasons why: 

      1) There’s no reason to include the Extras strip, since those are basically just Media Center apps that would be better off as Metro apps. 
      2) There are already music, pictures, and videos apps, so no reason to duplicate that functionality.
      3) Arguably ESPN (or any other third party) would make a better Sports app than the built-in Media Center one (though I hope there are hooks in Media Center that allow other apps to directly jump to content). No reason to re-invent the wheel.
      4) Fits in better with how the new Metro dashboard for the Xbox 360 works.

    • Richard Raseley

      I am willing to bet you’re incorrect. The purpose of the Media Center application is to provide a unified interface for accessing all the media you could want. While the “extras” may be able to be gotten ride of the pictures, videos, and music are a must (in addition to live TV obviously).

      It wouldn’t make sense to have a user have to drop out of the application to view pictures, then back into the application to watch live TV, then drop back out of the application to watch a video.

      Also, you have to consider the people that connect to a Media Center PC via an extender.

    • Anonymous

      I believe you are both kind of right in your own way.  Media Center should not exist in the way that we know it now.  It really should live inside of Zune on the desktop/laptop/tablet and on the XBox dashboard on TV.  For example you buy a Ceton card you install it on your machine.  You go to the App Store and get the Ceton software.  Live TV and Recorded TV is made available to you inside of the TV Hub on your desktop/laptop/tablet and under the TV Hub on your TV.  Same thing with buying a Radio application.  So Media Center doesn’t exist but its functionality rolls into Zune giving the unified experience like Richard said but not within Media Center because it duplicates functionality like Jeff.

    • Guest

      Whereas Apple is going to build a TV with integrated iOS and iCloud. Your media/games/etc, whatever devices it’s on, will just appear. And you’ll use Siri to access it.

      That’s what MS is going to be up against in less than twelve months, and the current complicated hodgepodge of MC, extender or Xbox, file system + Skydrive, etc, is just way too complicated for the average consumer. They’ll happily spend twice as much on a TV from Apple and have everything “just work”. Ballmer is too stupid to get that. But hopefully Mattrick isn’t. However, he doesn’t control the whole experience, so he’s probably not going to be able to get MS positioned properly in time. Say goodbye to another market that MS pioneered for a decade.

    • Jeff Kibuule

      Why wouldn’t it make sense? Saying that everything should be built into one app means that Media Center would be yet another launcher, when the new Windows 8 Start Screen performs the same functions.

      As for the extender comment, 99% of all Media Center Extenders are Xbox 360s (as I doubt any Linksys extender has sold 55 million units), so what I’ve said already meshes with the next Xbox 360 dashboard update: separate apps for different functions. Live TV is an app. Music is an app. Video is an app. That’s where Microsoft is going.

    • Seth_p

      I’m pretty sure you’ll see Media Centre as a refreshed Metro app since Media Centre is full-screen centric anyway. If they didn’t it wouldn’t make much sense adopting what they’re trying to sell to us devs.

  • CircuitSoft

    Microsoft, I wish Windows 8 would be launched in 2525 (year that Halo started) so it would PWN other operating systems and you should have like 100,000 Developer previews, 100,000 betas, 100,000 RC’s.

    Just kidding. That would suck for me because I wouldn’t get to experience Windows 8.

    • Anonymous

      How high are you right now? :)

    • Guest

      I think he must be related to ArrowSmith. Mom must have dropped both of them on their heads a lot when they were young uns.

    • CircuitSoft

      I was just kidding. And I am on life that is all.     

    • CircuitSoft

      What? I hate ArrowSmith. I am a microsoft fanboy. I love Microsoft and hate apple. I had a death party when steve jobs dies celebrating his death. I’ve never touched or looked at an apple anything in real life.

    • CircuitSoft

      And which high idiot would name their company after a fruit? Also I have argued with this guy on youtube called crashnoww.

    • Shaun Wignal

      way too high i can see lol

    • CircuitSoft

      I was just kidding. And I am on life that is all.     

    • CircuitSoft

      I was just kidding. And I am on life that is all.

    • Grannyville7989

      Am I correct in thinking that the year that the events of Halo took place was 2552?

    • CircuitSoft

      Stupid wikipedia. You were right.

    • James Lunardi

      Thanks Circuitsoft I had forgotten about that song its a classic! (Zager And Evans – In The Year 2525)

    • CircuitSoft

      Your welcome.

    • Josè Daniel

      WTF! xD

  • Stephen Floyd

    Maybe the hype around beta will knock some amount of sense into the people who have already dismissed Windows 8 based on the DEVELOPER PREVIEW >.< 

    • Shaun Wignal

      people are morons trust me on that,common sense is long gone now a days..

    • Anonymous

      I’ve seen a very positive response to Window 8 dev preview. I think many like myself can’t wait for some top not tablets to come out.

    • Anonymous

      Yes!!! It seems some people have a very hard time understanding the differences between DVP, Beta, and RC.  DVP is for DEVELOPERS who are evaluating the new application framework and API’s, not the specific details of the UI or feature set.

  • Anonymous

    I’d like to see how they are going to integrate the XBox hub and Media center. If live TV works the same way on Windows 8 as it will on the XBox I don’t see how Apple and Google will be able to compete. Especially if the same features are available on XBox, Windows 8 tablet/desktop/ultra books, and Windows Phone 8. It really is Microsoft’s game to loose.

  • Guest

    So missed CES but might still make January? Ok, could have been worse.

    • Anonymous

      “Tech” blogs will still say it spells doom and gloom for MS and that MS was “late” and failed to deliver on their “promises”.  Keep in mind MS has ALWAYS sayed they would release Windows 8 milestones when they were ready.

  • Nguyen Ngoc Hung

    Y U NO call them the software giant, Tom  lol

    • Anonymous

      last time he did that, he was attacked for it.
      But thats what they actually are… Software Giant!

    • Guest

      Dying Giant, but yeah still a giant.

  • warex3D

    All haters are just thinking in tablets, they are missing the millions of pc users over the world who actually use the pc for work.

  • doctorwhofan98

    Any idea if the Windows 8 beta will include the Windows Live apps?

    • Seth_p

      I honestly don’t think so. That would be “too” much beta testing for consumers. You may see Windows Live Beta once Windows 8 hits RTM. That’d probably make more sense and you’d see more information disclosed about Office 15.

  • Jaz Hayre

    Lots of trolling in this thread.

    I think many people will buy Win8.

  • Luke Winstanley

    Guys take one step back here this is the only OS that has been designed to work across form factors and… The only one that has been built from the ground up with the cloud in mind. no matter how the othe os’s try and say it this is the only trully pevasive platform that developers have true cloud apis for desktops laptops and slates….

  • Anonymous

    I’m running on an HP tablet.  No Win8 drivers from HP make the screen rotation a pain.  Plus, the abaility to pin apps side by side doesn’t worl with this resolution that is too small.  I wish Microsoft would re-think that requirement.

  • Anonymous

    Ok, maybe someone can explain something to me. This is regarding tablets, I have no doubt that in the PC market Windows will do well. 

    Ok, So Microsoft is planning ARM based and x86/x64 Tablets. ARM based tablets were supposed to included Legacy Desktop app but not legacy programs. Now, a new report indicates that Microsoft will be dropping Legacy Desktop Support from ARM based tablets and notebooks. 

    Ok, so Microsoft must be planning to charge less licensing fee’s for the ARM based non- full blow windows Versions right? However, Android remains free to hardware makers, what is going to get hardware partners to make ARM based Windows 8 tablets? They can still get Android free. 

    Also what point is it to make x86/x64 tablets, sure there is a small market there for it, but the prices are going to be higher than the ARM based counterparts. If the ARM based tablets take off, don’t they risk cannibalizing the more expensive x86/x64 tablets? 

    Microsoft won’t care because they make their money from software, but wouldn’t it be just better going ARM for tablets? 

    I guess I already got my answer, Microsoft can invest in both because as long as Windows 8 is success in one tablet sector ARM or x86/x64 they come out a Winner.

     However, how is that going to work counting marketshare? Can’t count all Windows 8 combined in marketshare because that will cover PCs, as well as tablets. 

    There is plenty incentive for Microsoft, but I don’t see a whole of lot of incentive for hardware makers. Sure, in order to diversify their product offerings, they may turn to the of the off shoot Windows ARM tablet, like we the one off shoots of Windows Phone in between 10 Android devices. 

    • Guest

      Write a novel next time.

    • Anonymous

      I will, right here in the comment section. 

    • Guest

      Will it be just as whiney and boring?

  • Alec Spyrou

    It is clear that time is key as every day that goes by they lose traction in the tablet market to the competition. So here is my question, isn’t the effort to get an ARM tablet up and running doomed?
    The reason I ask is that there is going to have to be an Herculian effort of many years to get even 50% of the key well used applications on x86 ported to ARM? Another question, if the main (read only) real reason for going the ARM route is because of power savings, what’s wrong with Intels Sandybridge processor that is comparable to the ARM power efficiency and is shipping in sexy ultrabooks today?
    I know the MS tablet is a PC but 90% of people will compare it to the less functional tablets out there. If the price for an MS tablet isn’t comparable to the current Apple crop (or lower) then I fear for a big fat failure apart perhaps from a few corporates. It needs to be adopted by the retail shoppers as that is a big “in” to the corporates (as per the iPAD).

    Lastly, why don’t MS get it that a lower functioning tablet meets a large and until recently untapped market (price point, simplicity/usability/appeal) – original kindle (ok its an ereader) but now the Kindle fires, B&N Nook, iPad, Android. A cut down version of the Windows 8 OS on tablets would meet that demand and probably get to market sooner.

  • Viaticus

    I really don’t understand how MS thinks a touch-based interface OS works on a desktop PC when next to no one owns a touchscreen for their desktop PC.  They really believe everyone’s going to trash their 2-year-old-at-most LCD monitors for touchscreens??