Microsoft offers summer sneak preview of Windows 8

Microsoft Windows 8 interface Windows 8 is set for a full launch in the autumn

Microsoft has announced that a second preview version of its new operating system will be available in June.

Windows 8 represents a radical overhaul for the company as it attempts to capture the tablet market as well as feed its traditional PC cash-cow.

Windows president Steven Sinofsky said that the "release preview" would be the closest yet to the final version.

Microsoft has not said when that would be available, but most commentators point to an October release.

Three flavours

ANALYSIS

The Windows operating system is Microsoft's most important money spinner; Windows 8 is the company's bid to stay relevant in the age of tablet computers and smartphones.

With its colourful Metro user interface, Windows 8 is indeed a dramatic departure. It takes the smartphone user experience and scales it to PC level. Simply log on to your email and social networking accounts, and the computer hooks straight into your digital life. Most of your Windows 8 computing will focus on downloadable "apps", just like on your Apple iPad or Google Android phone. It's built for touch screens, and holds a lot of tablet promise.

The Windows 8 test versions available so far are still somewhat buggy, and its app store is quite bare.

But Microsoft has not been afraid to make a radical break with its computing past. Now consumers have to decide whether it works for them.

Mr Sinofsky revealed the preview to delegates at a Windows Developer Days event in Japan.

He has previously said that the new OS would be the most significant redesign since Windows 95.

The trademark Windows "Start" button will no longer appear, replaced by a sliding panel-based menu.

It also offers a new user interface called Metro - designed for touch gesture controls - as well as a more traditional desktop design.

As well as powering computers running traditional processors from Intel and AMD, the OS will also run on new tablets and devices running low-power ARM-based processors.

Last week Microsoft announced that it was releasing a simplified number of versions.

Alongside the ARM edition - dubbed Windows RT - the software giant will release just two flavours - Windows 8 and Windows Pro.

The Windows 8 developer preview launched late last year and has prompted more than 100,000 changes.

The first public preview launched in February.

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