Microsoft Corp. (MSFT: Quote) said Thursday its Windows 8 operating system is now available as a Release Preview, a clear sign that its newest OS is in the last developmental stage and on track for a formal launch.
The software giant has not committed a date as to the release of Windows 8. Windows 7 was launched in October 2009, and considering its avowed goal of having a new version once in three years, the release of Windows 8 may only be a couple of months away.
Windows 8 will be the first version to run on both tablets and PCs. With customer preference for tablets eating away into PC sales, Windows 8 is being touted as Microsoft's real attempt at taking on Apple Inc.'s (AAPL) iPad.
Windows 8 Release Preview is available today for download in 14 languages, presenting users with a fluid experience, along with a new user interface that responds well to touch.
Prominent features of the Windows 8 Release Preview include Bing Travel, News and Sports apps, as well as Gaming and Music Xbox apps that integrate with Zune pass. Also featured are improvements to the Mail, Photos and People apps.
Microsoft said that for those buying Windows 7-based PCs through January 31, 2013, customers can upgrade to Windows 8 Pro for an estimated retail price of $14.99 during the time of the promotion.
MSFT closed Thursday at $29.19, down $0.15 or 0.51%, on a volume of 39.0 million shares on the Nasdaq. In the past year, the stock has traded in a range $23.65 - $32.95.
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by RTT Staff Writer
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