Windows 8 FAQ | The Download Blog - CNET Download.com

Windows 8 FAQ

We answer your pressing questions about Microsoft's new operating system.

(Credit: Aloysius Low/CNET)

What is Microsoft releasing today?
Starting today, you can download the Consumer Preview beta version of Windows 8 (as well as the beta of Windows Server 8 and the beta of Visual Studio 11). The Consumer Preview version is free and available to the general public to try out.

Where can I download the beta?
Right here from Microsoft: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-8/download.
And here from Download.com: CNET's full first take on Windows 8 beta

Does that include the ARM version?
No, here's no ARM-based beta you can download today. Microsoft has said it will make preloaded Windows/ARM devices available to developers soon.

When will Windows 8 be available to purchase?
Microsoft hasn't put an exact date on it, but many PC and other hardware makers have said that they expect to have Windows 8 products in stores by either the third or fourth quarter of 2012, which would mean they'll land in time for the Holiday 2012 shopping season.

What features discussed today differ from the Windows 8 developer preview available since last year?
A few of the highlights from today, not previously available in test versions of Win8, include:

  • The replacement of the traditional Start with a right-click Start Preview function.
  • A new Microsoft Account to manage passwords and account information--this is likely a rebranding/replacement for Windows Live.
  • New Microsoft apps, including People, Mail, Calendaring, Messaging and SkyDrive, and others, available for free (for now, at least) in the new Windows 8 app store.
  • Mouse and touch gestures to zoom and resize the view, launch Charms, and more.

What are the minimum specs to run the Windows 8 preview?

  • 1.0GHz or faster processor
  • 1GB RAM (32-bit) or 2 GB RAM (64-bit)
  • 16GB available hard-disk space (32-bit) or 20GB (64-bit)
  • DirectX 9 graphics
  • 1,024x768 minimum native screen resolution (1,366x768 for the Snap functionality)

Do I have to have a touch screen?
Despite the heavy emphasis on touch, Window 8 will work on traditional laptop/desktop hardware as well.

Do I have to use the Metro interface?
While most of the Windows 8 demos we've seen make heavy use of the mobile-friendly Metro user interface, there's a traditional Windows desktop view available that runs much of your legacy software as well (but on the ARM version, which is preloaded with special versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote, your x86 software won't run). Some apps, however, will only run in Metro, and are designed to run either full screen or docked to one side.

How is Microsoft working Xbox into Windows 8?
Through a new Xbox Live companion app, Microsoft wants to connect your PC, Xbox, and even Windows phone in new ways. You'll be able to stream video from a PC to an Xbox, access your Xbox friends list and more.

Where can I read more about Windows 8?
Our liveblog commentary is here; our hands-on preview of Windows 8 is here. We'll update this post with new questions and answers throughout the day, and our hands-on preview video is embedded below.

Windows 8 beta unifies desktop and tablet--but will people like it?

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