Microsoft launches Windows 8 developer preview, downloads are live!

We got a taste of Windows 8 back at D9, but the real bounty is waiting in Anaheim. The company's kicking off its Build conference with a full-on developer preview of its next major desktop operating system, still code-named Windows 8 for the time being. According to Steven Sinofsky -- president of the Windows and Windows Live Division at Microsoft -- the company has "reimagined Windows," bringing about a "new range of capabilities" that coders will begin to dig into sooner rather than later. As we'd seen before, the "Metro-styled" user interface is front-and-center, bringing graphical elements of Windows Phone 7 to desktop, laptop and tablet users of the future. Internet Explorer 10 is also onboard, as well as a focus on "apps" that can communicate with one another, and content that can sync across devices. Folks comfortable in a Win7 environment ought to be right at home here -- Win8 is built on the same foundation, though the retooled Task Manager and Windows Explorer should tickle the average fancy.

The Windows Store will enable devs to hawk their apps to any nation where Windows is sold, and yes, support for ARM-based chipsets is proudly included alongside compatibility with x86 devices. In other words, everything from "10-inch tablets to laptops to all-in-ones with 27-inch HD screens" will be able to ingest Win8 with ease. That's a markedly different take than the folks in Cupertino have expressed, with an (admittedly limiting) mobile OS being chosen to run the tablet side of things. Only time will tell which mantra proves more viable, but we're guessing the both of 'em will find varying levels of success. Microsoft has also confirmed backwards compatibility with "devices and programs" that support Windows 7, and while an exact time has yet to be revealed, we're told that developers will be able to download the Windows Developer Preview via the new Windows Dev Center later this week. Full fact sheets can be seen in the source link below, and our hands-on impressions of the new code can be found right here.

Update: Downloads are live! Get in!

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Microsoft Reimagines Windows, Presents Windows 8 Developer Preview

BUILD Conference attendees and developers get first access to new operating system.

LOS ANGELES - Sept. 13, 2011 - Today at its developer-focused BUILD conference, Microsoft Corp. showcased a detailed preview of the next major release of Windows, code-named "Windows 8." The company also detailed new tools for developers to help write applications for more than 1 billion people around the world who use Windows every day.
"We reimagined Windows," said Steven Sinofsky, president of the Windows and Windows Live Division at Microsoft, in his keynote address to the thousands of developers in attendance. "From the chipset to the user experience, Windows 8 brings a new range of capabilities without compromise."

The company also highlighted a variety of new features in Windows 8, including the following:

Touch-First User Interface
• Metro style. Windows 8 introduces a new Metro style interface built for touch, which shows information important to you, embodies simplicity and gives you control.
• Touch-first browsing, not just browsing on a touch device. Providing a fast and fluid touch-browsing experience, Internet Explorer 10 puts sites at the center on new Windows 8 devices.
More Ways to Engage With Powerful, Connected Apps
• Powered by apps. Metro style apps built for Windows 8 are the focal point of your experience, filling your entire screen so there are no distractions.
• Apps can work together. Apps communicate with each other in Windows 8. For example, you can easily select and email photos from different places, such as Facebook, Flickr or on your hard drive.
• The content you create syncs across your devices. Live roams all the content from the cloud services you use most - photos, email, calendar and contacts - keeping them up-to-date on your devices. With Windows SkyDrive, you can access content anywhere with your Microsoft account.
Enhanced Fundamentals
• The best of Windows 7, only better. Windows 8 is built on the rock-solid foundation of Windows 7, delivering improvements in performance, security, privacy and system reliability.
• Preserving power-user favorites and making them better. For those who push the limits of their PC, Windows 8 features an enhanced Task Manager and Windows Explorer and new, flexible options for multimonitor setups.
New Developer Opportunities
• Windows Store. The Windows Store will allow developers to sell their apps anywhere Windows is sold worldwide, whether they're creating new games or familiar productivity tools.
• Build using more languages. Windows 8 lets you leverage your existing skills and code assets to create great experiences using the programming language you prefer.
• Rich hardware integration leads to richer experiences - particularly for games. DirectX 11 gaming power underlies Windows 8, allowing the easy creation of full-screen games with smooth, flicker-free action.
New Generation of Hardware
• One Windows - many shapes and sizes. Support for ARM-based chipsets, x86 devices, touch and sensors means Windows 8 works beautifully across a spectrum of devices, from 10-inch tablets and laptops to all-in-ones with 27-inch high-definition screens.
• Always connected. With Windows 8, new ultrathin PCs and tablets turn on instantly, run all day on a single charge and stay connected to the Internet so your PC is ready when you are.
• Tap the full power of your PC. Windows 8 runs on PCs and is compatible with the devices and programs you use today on Windows 7, without compromise, to deliver the performance you expect of a PC.

Developers will be able to download the Windows Developer Preview via the new Windows Dev Center later this week. Webcasts of sessions will be posted on the BUILD site as well.
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Some information relates to a prerelease product, which may be substantially modified before it's commercially released. Microsoft makes no warranties, express or implied, with respect to the information provided here.