Today, Microsoft announced that the Consumer Preview of Windows 8 will be available on February 29. We candidly suggested that they use the tag line “something this great only comes once in four years” but we shall see if that sticks.
What is significant about this announcement is that Microsoft is forgoing the beta tag and slapping the word consumer on the platform, a bold move. Why is it so bold? When you label something as beta (ahem Google), it gives you an out, you can shrug your shoulders and say, “well it’s beta, what do you expect” but with the pre-release of Windows 8 being called the Consumer Preview, Microsoft is pushing that aside. Does this mean that they think it’s a rock solid build being pushed in to consumer hands, honestly, it may, otherwise why would Microsoft risk the Windows 8 branding on this preview and not hide behind a beta tag.
The big risk is if Windows 8 Consumer Preview flops out the door with constant crashing, half-working features, and drags down the image of Windows 8 before it even launches. We all know about the Vista flop as those betas were nothing but terrible and when the final release rolled around, Vista was already written off by the public.
Microsoft is well aware that it is changing the way you navigate Windows, it was by design (obviously). As such, there will be some screams of horror, editorials written that are without substance (and those with substance), but Microsoft is not a new pony to the race, it has been around the block a few times.
With the Consumer Preview branding, Microsoft is saying that they are ready for you to take a look at their hard work. They are inviting the consumer, the less than technical user, the type of person that may be confused at first without a start orb, to dip their toes in the Metro water.
It’s a bold step for the company as it seems Microsoft has had a bit of swagger in its step the past few months. The company has a new found confidence, a willingness to be bold (not that be bold) and stick its head in to new waters and once again forge a path built around Metro. It’s time to grab your paddle and get ready for the Consumer Preview, Microsoft is betting big on the platform which means it better be pretty damn good.