Bowing to the shift to mobile computing, Microsoft has finally launched the first beta version of Windows 8 – a rejig of its flagship product. It had its first public outing at the World Mobile Congress in Barcelona, where Steven Sinofsky, president of Microsoft’s Windows division, showed off its features.Dubbed the Windows 8 Consumer Preview, it’s now available for downloading and trial by members of the public, including Australians, from http://preview.windows.com. Final commercial versions of the OS are due later this year.
For the first time the OS has been designed to work on tablet devices as well as desktop and laptop computers. Its touch-enabled Metro interface sports a tablet-style home screen sporting large boldly-coloured tiles
Features include an updated version of the Internet Explorer Web browser and a single-password sign-on to allow people to access their e-mail, address books and documents across a range of Windows-powered computers and mobile phones.
The system includes Web-based storage.
Microsoft is counting on Windows 8 to wrest attention of consumers and software designers away from Apple, Google and other companies that have grabbed market share in mobile phones, tablets and desktops.
Microsoft also took the wraps off the Windows Store, an online centre for consumers to download apps fashioned for Windows 8, including a version of Amazon.com’s Kindle app for reading e-books, and Cut the Rope, a game also available on iPhones.
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