At Long Last, Windows 8 Consumer Preview is Available to Download

Great news if you're a Windows fan. Microsoft has just made available the Windows 8 Consumer Preview, which you can download right this very second. Included in the Consumer Preview is the much ballyhooed Metro UI along with scores of changes -- over 100,000 -- Microsoft made to the OS since releasing the Developer Preview.

The download is available in English, Chinese (Simplified), French, German, and Japanese, each of which comes in 32-bit and 64-bit flavors. System requirements are as follows:
  • Processor: 1GHz or faster
  • RAM: 1GB (32-bit) or 2GB (64-bit)
  • Hard disk space: 16GB (32-bit) or 20GB (64-bit)
  • Graphics card: Microsoft DirectX 9 capable or or higher
  • 1024x768 minimum screen resolution

You'll also need a multi-touch monitor if you plan to go tap-crazy on your desktop and use the built-in touch technology. There are some other things you should keep in mind.

"However, there are some additional requirements to take into consideration in order to use certain features in Windows 8. In order to use the Snap feature, you will need a PC with a 1366x768 resolution or higher," Microsoft said in a blog post. "If you want to use touch, you’ll need a multitouch-capable laptop, tablet, or display. Windows 8 supports up to five simultaneous touch points, so if your hardware doesn’t, you may find typing on the onscreen keyboard and using certain controls more of a challenge. You’ll also need an Internet connection to try out the Windows Store, to download and install apps, and to take your settings and files with you from one Windows 8 PC to another."

You should also be aware that this is beta software, which could require a bit of troubleshooting and possibly getting your hands dirty to get things to work properly. If you're okay with that, you can download the Consumer Preview here, and be sure to share your impressions with us in the comments section below!