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Windows 8 Beta Expected in Early 2012

Reports say Microsoft will begin beta-testing the OS update in the first quarter, which means products are likely by the fall.

Microsoft is reportedly on track to release Windows 8 on a similar time frame to Windows 7, with the first beta of the new OS appearing in early 2012. The software giant has not said officially when it will release Windows 8 or even when a beta version might appear.  But two sources claim a Windows 8 beta release is coming in the next few months.

Speaking with anonymous sources "close to Microsoft," The Next Web says Windows 8 beta version will launch in February.  But Winrumors claims the first stable test build of Windows 8 will appear a few weeks earlier in late January, according to its anonymous sources.

Whether it appears in January or February, an early 2012 beta release for Windows 8 is not particularly surprising. Many critics expect Windows 8 to follow a similar release schedule to Windows 7.

Microsoft in early January 2009 publicly released the beta version of Windows 7. The near-final version of Windows 7 (known as the release candidate) debuted four months later and on October 22 Windows 7 officially launched.

A Windows 8 launch in 2012 has also long been expected thanks to leaked documents and public statements by Microsoft's CEO Steve Ballmer. But there are also indications that Windows 8 may be finished bit more quickly than its predecessor. A Nokia executive recently let slip to a French newspaper that the Finnish handset maker plans to release a Windows 8 tablet in June 2012.

It's not clear if the Nokia executive meant the company will start producing the tablets or will actually be selling them in stores by June. If he meant the former, that still puts Windows 8's release along a similar schedule to Windows 7. Microsoft released Windows 7 to manufacturers in June 2009 so that device makers could begin incorporating the OS into their products. Windows 7 PCs were available in October of that year.

A Windows 8 beta version may not be ready yet, but Microsoft in September released a developer preview of the new OS. If you'd like to try it out, you can download the Windows 8 developer preview here.

Connect with Ian Paul (@ianpaul) and Today@PCWorld on Twitter for the latest tech news and analysis.


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