Windows 8 Consumer Preview: 24 Hours, One Million Downloads

One million copies of the consumer preview of Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system were downloaded in the first 24 hours of its availability.

Microsoft disclosed the download milestone in a BuildingWindows8 tweet Thursday.

Microsoft began offering the consumer preview version of the software on Wednesday following a press conference at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. Windows 8 is the next generation of Microsoft's flagship product that's widely expected to be generally available later this year.

Related: Windows 8 Beta: The Good, The Bad, And The Confusing

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In addition to perpetuating Microsoft's dominant position on desktop PCs, Windows 8 -- which also will run on ARM-based tablet computers -- is the keystone of the company's efforts to become a player in the mobile computing arena.

Microsoft began offering a "developer preview" version of the operating system at its Build conference last September. But this week marks the first time a version of the software has been available to the general public.

Almost overlooked in the hoopla over the Windows 8 client software was the fact that Microsoft debuted a beta of the next release of Windows Server, code named "Windows Server 8" on Thursday. A preview version of that product for developers and hardware partners also was made available in September.

Microsoft is calling the server software its "cloud-optimized" operating system because of its ability to leverage Microsoft's new Hyper-V virtualization technology to create a multi-tenant platform for cloud computing.

Also new are advancements in high-availability and disaster recovery capabilities, such as File Server Transparent Failover, and new tools for multi-machine management and automation including Windows PowerShell, Intellisense and improvements to Server Manager.