It's safe to say that anticipation is high for the upcoming Windows 8 Release Preview, which will become available in the first week of June. While we're still curious to see if Microsoft can better integrate the desktop and Metro environments of its latest operating system, the company has now revealed a significant change to the desktop portion of Windows 8 -- a completely restyled visual appearance. As you might remember from the Consumer Preview, window borders and widgets featured a simplified and subdued look in comparison to the glass-like materials of Aero, which Microsoft now calls "dated and cheesy." With the latest refresh, however, the company has pushed its modernistic philosophy even further to reveal a spartan (yet functional) interface that draws less attention to the chrome elements and allows the user to focus more on content.
Microsoft's latest reveal was made as part of a larger, retrospective look at its development of Windows and the evolution of the operating system. At every step, the company states that its emphasis has been on the overall "learnability" of the environment. As such, Microsoft claims that it's making great strides to ensure that consumers may quickly get up to speed with the latest OS, and hints that it has a number of reveals yet to be seen. In its very next breath, however, it also emphasized people's ability to adapt and move forward, which suggests the number of changes might not be as conciliatory as some might've hoped. Regardless, we'll know for sure what Microsoft has in store in just a few weeks.
Update: Well, this is interesting. In the screenshot above, you'll notice a highlighted mail-esque icon at the bottom of the taskbar. As it would turn out, Techblitz recently discovered that Microsoft swapped that shot for a nearly identical replica, albeit without the icon. Is this miniscule peek into something new in the way of Windows Live mail or similar? At this point it's anyone guess, but we'll keep you posted if we find out more. You'll find the new screenshot after the break.