Microsoft issued the Windows 8 Consumer Preview today for everyone to download and try. Demonstrating the operating system’s ability to scale from the smartphone screen all the way to high-end PCs and beyond, the Redmond, Wash.-headquartered software giant showcased Windows 8 on a monstrous 82-inch display that is capable of detecting up to 100 simultaneous touch events or 10 simultaneous users.
Unfortunately, AnandTech, which reported the story, does not have a video online yet. However, I think it is safe to take Microsoft’s word. Now, if the operating system only ran Apple’s Keynote, the ninja PC-plus-Windows 8 combo coupled with a huge projector-based display would make for an impressive keynote rig.
By the way, we would love to hear impressions from our tech-savvy readers that have managed to dual-boot Windows 8 Consumer Preview alongside OS X using Boot Camp (go here for the FAQ detailing system requirements).
The Windows 8 Consumer Preview product demonstration video is right below the fold.
As you know, Microsoft is betting the farm on Windows 8, a long-awaited upgrade to the Windows ecosystem succeeding the successful Windows 7 release that put Microsoft back on track after the Vista fiasco. The company opted for a single Windows version that supports various form factors from the tiny smartphone screens to tablets, to netbooks and notebooks, and to desktop PCs and high-performing specialized systems. Windows 8 also includes the Metro user interface with tiles—now the default replacement for the decades-old Windows desktop metaphor.
It still runs old Windows programs on the familiar desktop, but it also has new, touch-optimized apps written with web technologies. In addition, Windows 8 includes the curated Microsoft Store to distribute signed third-party software optimized for touch input. Microsoft’s strategy is in stark contrast to Apple, which maintains separate desktop and mobile operating systems, although both share the same core features and technologies. With the Lion release last year, it became clear Apple would bring some of the most popular iOS features to Mac OS X—now re-branded as OS X. The trend is continuing with OS X 10.7 Mountain Lion due for a summer release.
Mountain Lion brings more of the iPad to the Mac, including features like iPad-ified Notes and Reminders apps, as well as the new Messages app that replaced iChat with iMessage support, and AirPlay Mirroring, Notification Center and more. This gradual but notable iOS-notification has led some to speculate that iOS and OS X will eventually merge into a unified operating system spanning Apple’s Mac computers and mobile devices. If true, such an operating system would theoretically pave the way for the rumored ARM-based MacBooks.