Microsoft Sets Feb. 29 For Windows 8 Consumer Preview Release

Microsoft looks set to release a consumer preview of Windows 8 on Feb. 29, just meeting the company's stated goal of delivering a beta version of the PC operating system by the end of February.

Microsoft has scheduled a Windows 8 consumer preview event at the Hotel Miramar in Barcelona, Spain, on Wednesday, Feb. 29, starting at 3:00 p.m. local time.

The event will mark the next step in the development of Windows 8, the next release of Microsoft's flagship product, which is widely expected to be finished and ready for general availability by the end of the year.

Microsoft debuted a technical preview release of Windows 8 at its Build conference in September, making an early version of the operating system available to some 5,000 developers.

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The consumer preview should help answer questions about how development of the Windows 8 software has progressed since the technical preview was released. The CRN Test Center has raised some red flags about whether Windows will be successful like Windows 7, the current edition of the product, or a flop like Windows Vista.

In a column Wednesday Ed Moltzen, CRN Test Center managing editor, noted that ISVs have been slow to adapt their applications for Windows 8's Metro-style interface. There are concerns about the cost of migrating to Windows 8 from earlier versions. And Moltzen warns that there seems to be a lack of consistency in how applications will function on different hardware platforms.