Microsoft’s Windows 8 Consumer Preview beta to debut February 29

Microsoft isn’t shy when it comes to discussing Windows 8. The Redmond software giant has been documenting the OS’ development for the past six months and pushed a preview version into developers’ eager little hands in September. A new “consumer preview” (read: fancy label for beta) of Windows 8 is slated for February 29 – an apropos day for the company to prove the platform isn’t just a step above Windows 7, but a leap over it.

Microsoft's Windows 8 Consumer Preview beta to debut February 29

Beta News surmises that this month’s preview all but confirms the full version of the new OS will launch in October. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time.

Last month, Janelle Poole, director of public relations for Windows Business Group, said during a CES press briefing that a fall release falls in line with the company’s previous Windows products.

“One of the things that I think is a good guideline though is we’ve always said that Windows releases come round about every three years and this year will be three years in October since we launched Windows 7,” Poole said. “So I think that’s a good guideline to consider.”

In a recent interview (.doc) with Goldman Sachs analyst Heather Bellini, Microsoft CFO Peter Klein said that Windows 8 will dramatically improve on the platform’s ability to “deliver the most complete set of experiences and scenarios across a variety of form factors, and architectures.”

“You’ll have very good consumption experiences that you tend to think of with tablet-like devices,” Klein said. “You’ll get great productivity experiences, and line of business applications. And so, I think it’s actually going to cross both what you’d call the consumer use, or at-home use, and business use. And potentially get traction in both places.”

When asked about the possibility that Windows 8 will be heavily pirated, Klein was optimistic, but admitted there’s no quick and easy solution:

We are making progress. As you know, it’s a long, hard, complicated battle. We do know it’s not up and to the right every quarter, but the long-term trend has been good. But, it’s incremental. And there are no silver bullets to piracy. We do get better with every release, and there’s a whole host of things that we do. There’s technology answers. There’s regulatory answers. There’s sales and marketing, distribution, pricing, all those things. I think our history has shown that with each succeeding release of Windows we get incrementally better and I hope and expect that would be the case. But, it would be unfair to say that there’s some quantum leap that’s coming.

Microsoft has taken steps to help identify non-genuine copies of Windows 7 and push illegitimate users toward actually purchasing a software license. However, the company’s stance conflicts with its decision to offer security updates to all Windows users – even pirates.

Apple’s next OS update, dubbed “Mountain Lion,” also launches this year. Performance and functionality improvements aside, it’s already clear who wins the “cooler name” contest. (via Redmond Mag)