Windows 8 Release Preview now available for download

Windows 8 Release Preview is now available for download in 14 languages, Microsoft Corp. announced today.

Previously only a Consumer Preview of the next major operating system update from Microsoft had been available. The Redmond-based software giant says that release was downloaded more than 1 million times in the first 24 hours alone. This most recent release marks the final phase of testing and development before the release to manufacturing (RTM).

Microsoft’s Windows has traditionally been an OS designed for desktop PCs, and that will also be the case with Windows 8. But Microsoft is also making the new OS touch-friendly to make it suitable for use with tablet PCs, or all-in-one desktop PCs that support touch. The new Metro user interface is being ported over from Microsoft’s Windows Phone OS and it represents the most significant visual change to the OS since Windows 95 was released.

There are new apps available for Windows 8 in the Release Preview. Those include Bing Travel, news and sports category apps, and gaming and music Xbox apps. Microsoft says there are notable improvements to features including Mail, Photos, and People apps since debuting in the Consumer Preview.

Microsoft is also rolling out a Windows Upgrade Offer on June 2, including in Canada. It will allow PC shoppers that buy a Windows 7-based PC from now until Jan. 31, 2013 to upgrade to Windows 8 Pro for an estimated cost of $14.99.

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