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Microsoft release Windows 8 Consumer Preview

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Microsoft’s Windows 8 has been showcased at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona with a free consumer preview now available to download.

PC users running Windows 7 users can download and install Windows 8 which represents the biggest change to the platform since the introduction of Windows 95.

Perhaps the biggest feature of Windows 8, apart from its completely different look, is the fact it can be used just as effectively with a keyboard and mouse on a regular computer and on a touchscreen device like a tablet.

You can download the Windows 8 Consumer Preview here.

The home page has a completely new Metro interface with a series of tiles that users can scroll through horizontally.

This full screen layout replaces the old Start menu with users now able to see all their applications at a glance.

On a touchscreen device Windows 8 has several gesture controls. Within an application if you swipe your finger from the screen’s edge and a menu appears on the right.

The new Windows 8 Start screen

With a mouse and keyboard, this menu appears when you click the top right corner of the screen.

This menu offers options like:

Search – opens up the search window

Share – displays the options of sharing what you’re doing within the app.

Start – takes you back to the home page.

Devices – shows you all your connected devices.

Settings – shortcut to the Windows 8 control panel and settings.

Swiping on from the left edge opens a list of all the open applications for easier multitasking with the ability to have a second pane – like a messaging app for example – open while you’re working within another app.

With a mouse users simply have to click the top left corner and scroll down to see and browse recent apps.

It’s easy to rearrange the tiles on your homescreens either by clicking and dragging.

Frequently used apps can be pinned to a dock on the bottom of the screen for easier access.

The interface itself looks a lot like the Windows Phone 7 interface with the mobile platform also being updated to version 8 when the full desktop version is released in October.

Windows 8 will include Internet Explorer 10 which offers fullscreen browsing

Microsoft’s strategy is to deliver a consistent experience across a number of screens – the mobile, the computer and the TV (with the Xbox 360).

And users can also access all their content from any of these devices as well from SkyDrive – Microsoft’s cloud storage solution.

The Windows 8 consumer preview will also give users their first glimpse of Internet Explorer 10.

IE10 displays sites across the whole width of the screen with controls appearing when you click or touch the screen.

There will also be built-in security and privacy controls to make your browsing experience a safe one.

The Windows 8 Consumer Preview is available now and can be downloaded from here.

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