Following several leaks of Microsoft's next generation OS, we're getting tidbits that Windows 8 is getting close to the Beta phase of it's development. Unconfirmed sources indicate that build 7996 is now in testing, according to centrumxp.pl. If this (loosely translated from Polish) statement is correct:
"the production of Windows 8 Beta 1 will last a minimum of 6 weeks to a maximum of about 3 months. And that would cover all of our previous assumptions that the first beta we look forward to as early as the coming holidays, and by September. It is worth mentioning that on 10-14 July will be held in Los Angeles, Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, where we expect to be unveiled Windows 8 in one of the complication is derived from Branch Beta."
So in summary, it seems we can expect an unveiling possibly at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, and then the Windows 8 M3 / Beta is expected to be offered to participants at the Professional Developers Conference 2011 (PDC 2011) September 13–16, 2011, in Anaheim, California.
This timeline appears to correlate with a leaked roadmap, indicating that Windows 8 Milestone 3 coding was to begin on February 28, 2011 (According to SoftPedia). According to the same article, M3 coding should be wrapped up no later than July 2011 (for comparison, Windows 8 M2 took approximately 5 months from start to completion).
Unfortunately, according to SoftPedia, it's possible that build 8000 may be just another build as Microsoft heads to beta:
"It’s critical to note that Windows 8 Build 8000 is not the fully-fledged Beta development milestone, but only one of the many Builds which will be created on the path to the actual Beta.
Windows 8 M3 Build 6.2.7996.0.winmain_win8m3.110429-1810 was compiled on April 29th, 2011, and in this regard, it’s quite possible that Build 8000 was also wrapped up, or that at least, Microsoft is quite close to doing so."
For more information on our recent Windows 8 coverage click here.