Microsoft is moving closer to its first Windows 8 beta, reaching build 8156 recently.
The software giant is currently preparing pre-beta builds of Windows 8 and many Microsoft watchers believe a Windows 8 beta may arrive at the Consumer Electronics Show in January 2012. 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. Microsoft is believed to be at build 8156 in its Windows 8 development. MDL forums posted a list of recent builds that include the following:
The latest, built on November 16, shows that Microsoft appears to be making slow and steady progress towards the beta milestone. The Windows 8 developer preview was marked as build 8102 with a compile date of August 24. Microsoft has previously promised that the company plans to issue only one beta of Windows 8 and one Release Candidate before the release to manufacturing of Windows 8. Given the number of builds compiled between now and when the developer preview was made available, Microsoft’s progress could indicate that the beta version of Windows 8 might not be ready in time for CES 2012. Microsoft employees are tight lipped about when the beta will drop and company insiders have revealed to WinRumors that the Windows team is working extremely hard on the quality and features of Windows 8.
If Windows 8 beta isn’t ready for CES 2012 then expect it shortly afterwards.The big OEMs, including HP, Dell and ASUS are all reportedly preparing Windows 8 tablets for Q3 2012. Microsoft is expected to unveil the final version of Windows 8 during the Summer months of 2012 in preparation for a holiday push of new tablets and form factors.