Final Windows 8 preview released

As promised, Microsoft has released a new preview of Windows 8, saying it includes ‘tens of thousands’ of improvements.

Release Preview is to be the final pre-release, with the complete product set to launch in time for the holiday selling season. The move follows a previous consumer preview released in February which, says the company, was downloaded more than a million times on the first 24 hours.

The preview comes bundled with Internet Explorer 10, along with new Windows 8 apps for connecting to Hotmail, SkyDrive, and Messenger. Through the Windows Store, it says, there’s access to hundreds of new and updated apps.

There are new apps for Bing Travel, news and sport, along with Gaming and Music Xbox apps. And the Mail, Photos and People apps have been improved, following customer feedback.

There are also improvements to the Start screen, with more personalization options, along with improved navigation for the Windows Store and a new Family Safety feature.

The next stage is release to manufacturing (RTM), when Microsoft says users should expect more changes to appear.

“Once we have entered the RTM stage, our partners will begin making their final images and manufacturing PCs, and hardware and software vendors will ready their Windows 8 support and new products,” says Steven Sinofsky, president of Windows and Windows Live, on a company blog.

“We will also begin to manufacture retail boxes for shipment around the world. We will continue to work with our enterprise customers as well, as we ensure availability of the volume license tools and products.”

Windows Release Preview is available here in 14 languages. The company says it wants feedback on reliability, security, compatibility and reseource utilisation.