For those of you who cannot wait to get your hands on Windows 8, we have good news: Microsoft has announced that a beta version of its next-generation operating system will be available to download in late February 2012.
Alongside the beta we’ll see the debut of Microsoft’s new Windows Store for Windows 8, an application that will allow users to purchase Windows software that they can then download straight to their computer — much like Apple’s Mac App Store. However, other than this feature, we’re not really sure what else we can expect from the beta at this point.
Microsoft has been very quiet about its feature set, but leaked screenshots and recent speculation have claimed that users will be able to customize the color of the Windows 8 start screen, and change its background image. The company has also confirmed that there are some minor improvements over the developer preview that was released in September, according to WinRumors:
Microsoft has previously detailed some other minor improvements to the Windows 8 beta. Users will be able to create, name and rearrange Start Screen groups as well as navigate with the Windows 8 Apps screen in a better way. Microsoft is planning to group applications to make it easier for users to identify them in Windows 8 beta. Windows Media Center will also return to Windows 8 beta alongside the typical Windows games, DVD creator and .NET 3.5. All were missing from the developer preview, made available in September.
Although a release date for the software is yet to be announced, Microsoft also confirmed that Windows 8 is on track for its 2012 launch.