Microsoft will let users try a near-final version of Windows 8 starting the first week of June.
The Windows 8 “Release Preview” presumably takes the place of Release Candidates that Microsoft has offered for previous versions of Windows. Unlike the Consumer Preview, which is available now, the Release Preview will likely have a final set of features in place, with only bugs to left to squash. These preview versions of Windows 8 are free to try, but they’ll be disabled after the final version launches.
Windows 8 is a major overhaul for Microsoft’s PC operating system, in which the traditional desktop takes the backseat to a new “Metro” interface. This interface is designed with tablets and touch screens in mind, and will allow users to download and run full-screen, touch-friendly apps. The old desktop will live on as a single app within this broader Metro interface.
Microsoft hasn’t announced a final Windows 8 release date yet, but rumors have hinted at an October launch. With the Release Preview due to arrive in a little over a month, Microsoft seems on track to release Windows 8 this fall.