Windows 8 Beta may be called the ‘Consumer Preview'

Microsoft’s last appearance at the Consumer Electronics Show this month may have been a bit light on new information when it came to Windows 8, but the company did reiterate its confirmation that the beta release of its new operating system will be arriving in late February. Or did it? As noted by ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley, if you look a little more closely at the terminology used, it seems that Microsoft didn’t promise to deliver the beta after all.

As Mary Jo herself acknowledges, this was something that Paul Thurrott picked up on over a week ago in an article on his Supersite For Windows. He noted that Janelle Poole, Microsoft’s director of public relations, made the following statement in a CES Windows 8 presentation:

We haven’t talked about the release date and we generally don’t. We are talking milestone to milestone, so for us right now, we’re talking about the next milestone being the Consumer Preview happening in late February."

Would Microsoft really abandon its ‘Beta’ tag in favour of calling it the Consumer Preview? From what Mary Jo has heard, the answer to that question is a simple ‘yes’. It’s not difficult to put that decision into perspective. As Paul suggests, this could very easily be part of a streamlined naming structure, beginning with the Developer Preview (which was delivered to developers in September), followed by the Consumer Preview (arriving next month), and finally the Enterprise (or Business) Preview, which would replace the ‘Release Candidate’ build.

But there may be other reasons for the name change.

Microsoft public beta builds tend to be more or less feature-complete, with fairly robust code and relatively stable performance. The company doesn’t often make software available to the public – even with a beta tag – if it imagines that it’s going to be inundated with support requests from users with varying competencies, experiencing issues ranging from minor bugs to full-on OS catastrophes. It’s conceivable, therefore, that Microsoft simply wishes to update its naming policy to reflect the more robust and stable nature of the build, rather than the nebulous ‘beta’ nomenclature, which carries connotations of a product that still demands more rounds of testing.

Alternatively, it could be as simple as the Consumer Preview name reflecting additional consumer-focused features that might be included to some degree for the beta, but which were omitted from the Developer Preview, such as Media Center, Xbox LIVE games and the Windows Store.

Whatever the underlying reasons, Microsoft would – intentionally or not – be raising expectations in eschewing the ‘beta’ moniker in favour of the Consumer Preview name. ‘Beta’ clearly implies that the product may be a little rough around the edges; ‘Consumer Preview’ carries no such obvious connotations, and those consumers that Microsoft hopes will preview the new build will no doubt expect a high-quality product with none of the kinks or bugs that they might be more ready to forgive on a beta-branded product.

Could Microsoft be setting itself up for a fall? Or is this a positive step in building consumer interest in the platform, now that it’s already got buzz in the developer community going? Do you think that the new name might hint that Windows 8 is closer than we might think?

Have your say in the comments below - and be sure to join in some of the Windows 8 discussions on the Neowin Forums.

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techguy77 said,
Speaking of Windows XP, yes people with new platform x79 go to Windows XP x64 Edition or just regular Windows XP

What corner of IT hell are you spouting from? Almost everyone I know of in IT will not allow end users to run Windows XP x64 because it's a horrible user and support experience. That OS was only to be used by people who actually required it, and I say who actually had some technical skill.

Vista RTM x64 was worth moving to day one, despite its problems, just because x86+x64 support at the same time was bloody solid even with most legacy applications. Sure, it couldn't properly auto-join domains via SysPrep, and had massive logon lag until SP2, and was really a slow bugger until you customized the services a lot, but it was still a pretty good OS for those who needed it. That said, I did abandon Vista pretty quickly and convert Windows 2008 x64 into my desktop just because it was so much faster than its client counterpart. So I probably have more fond memories of Vista days than most do. In fact, I overall liked the group policy evolution and cipher improvements as it ultimately improved the security of my domains and desktops almost as much as Windows 7 & 2008 R2 did.

At least with Windows 7, unless you require Hyper-V, both the client edition and 2008 R2 Server editions are rock solid desktop OS' and far more worth using than Windows XP. AppLocker is awesome despite badly needing more generation controls (and seriously, why ever Microsoft didn't make DLL rule generation as easy as everything else in AppLocker is just silly). The improvements to security with AES tied to ECDH certificates and EFS/BitLocker was great. I personally look forward to 8, just because RDS should finally support PIV/ECDH authentication certificates without having to hack IPsec into the mix.

Anyway, in actuality, with as much as Windows 8 Server and System Center 2012 is changing, anyone who supports Windows Servers and doesn't start learning the new should probably prepare to get out of the tech industry, because heavy automation is coming to replace some of us. For this reason alone, your business leaders may not allow you to neglect the upcoming technologies as much as you may hope they will. Maybe Microsoft will completely screw up due to the new Metro stuff, maybe not and they'll fix its issues and user concerns before release, but I suspect Windows 8 will become the next XP due to all the automation tech that's around the corner, no matter how much certain individuals want to avoid it.

I only have one real question about Windows 8… When will Hyper-V 3 support the new VT-D features from Sandy Bridge E, and what features will desktop users gain to take advantage of it? I'm sure there are server side advantages within VT-D, but really I'm more curious how desktops will be enabled to utilize it and Hyper-V in general in the future.

It's simple really. Too many whiny bitches screaming for a FREE copy of Windows after beta. I have been beta testing MS's OS since Windows NT4 and with each beta it got worse.
Sure they normally DO give us a cool gold copy, but with Vista and then 7 there were some real crybabies wanting a free copy. Made me sick. So I guess MS as said enough with these morons.

Really, the word "Beta" has lost all meaning in the past several years.

"Release Candidate" too. You should never *schedule* more than one RC, because the name itself implies it's intended to be final code if there's no show-stoppers.

I find it funny that the article assumes that everyone knows what beta / rc mean. Microsoft is pushing it's beta programs HARD across a lot of it's platforms and devices, and if it wants to get actual average users to install and try out the "beta" of windows 8, it makes sense to use a more self-explanitary name.

Also, Preview implies much less finished then beta does to me in regards to Microsoft's history. Betas are usually painless, near feature complete products that are all but ready to use on a daily basis. If win8 still has hills to climb then it makes sense to go with "preview" which... strikes me the same way a movie preview does. Not done, but here's something to get you excited and used to the new system.

roadwarrior said,
Seriously techdude77, do you EVER have any idea how much nonsense you constantly spew?

I talk perfect sense. I said that Vista in its early beta form is going to fail and it happened. I'd say Windows 8 is going same route as far as desktops, but it will succeed in Table and Smartphone division somewhat. If MS was honest enough and said guys we are not building really desktop OS but mobile i would be like all right, KUDOS.

Speaking of Windows XP, yes people with new platform x79 go to Windows XP x64 Edition or just regular Windows XP cause there are plenty of users out there who have trouble with even Windows 7, let alone Windows 8. I would always look forward new Windows release, i was even early Vista adopter but this time around i just don't care about it. There will be plenty of other people like me. My bigger interest is Ubuntu 11.10 which in my opinion is going to right direction!

And there you go. You've got new interests. That's alright. Sometimes people stop reading as much, that does not mean they go to book forums and whine that other people still enjoy fiction.

Rather than poping to Metro, as end user i would just run shortcut from desktop. Metro makes sense for Smartphones because that is the only way for Windows Phone to interact with user but for Desktop PC makes no sense and it is just slapped on Windows 7 interface in such akward way that is really WTF Microsoft. They are trying to push same look and feel across multiple platforms which is not going to work. I don't need 4x4 big ass square to tell me that is Office Word app. Yes there can be added additional information in those tiles but it comes to very few of them for which Metro was not needed. Infact i find very useless having feeds displayed in tile when i am going to open browser and read news anyway because i get full size, fully featured internet browser where with phone due limited screen size makes sense. Mixing Apple and Oranges again, very bad idea.

techguy77 said,
....

The only thing I can say is YOU are not an end user. You are a highly technical user who is stuck in their rut of the way windows should work.

The rest of us want the friends/family we support to get something easier and easier every version, so they do not need to learn what we know to have a productive, safe/secure environment.

Go read your forums and man pages and leave Windows to the average user.

This Windows is going to be a bigger Microsoft failure in the past 25 years. This has no place to compete. It will lose ground against Windows 7 and Windows XP (yes XP because it has significan market share), and it won't gain any significant marketshare on mobile. They mixed Oranges and Apples when it comes to Desktop vs Mobile. Good luck to MS. Metro and the rest of Windows visually are complete mess.

techguy77 said,
This Windows is going to be a bigger Microsoft failure in the past 25 years. This has no place to compete. It will lose ground against Windows 7 and Windows XP (yes XP because it has significan market share), and it won't gain any significant marketshare on mobile. They mixed Oranges and Apples when it comes to Desktop vs Mobile. Good luck to MS. Metro and the rest of Windows visually are complete mess.

Using as producion OS since november, i can fairly say that you won´t have the opportunity to say "See, I told you"

techguy77 said,
This Windows is going to be a bigger Microsoft failure in the past 25 years. This has no place to compete. It will lose ground against Windows 7 and Windows XP (yes XP because it has significan market share), and it won't gain any significant marketshare on mobile. They mixed Oranges and Apples when it comes to Desktop vs Mobile. Good luck to MS. Metro and the rest of Windows visually are complete mess.

People are still installing XP? I can see for isolated purposes but on the whole? No. I can see people staying with Win7 for a while longer. I won't though. As soon as it's available, I'm jumping over to Win8. I can stay in desktop mode all day long if I like you know? Then pop over to metro and view a couple of RSS feeds. Like anything new and different, it requires adjusting to.

iguanas said,

Using as producion OS since november, i can fairly say that you won´t have the opportunity to say "See, I told you"


Only an utter moron would use Windows 8 in its current publicly released form in a production environment!

How exactly is this different than with Windows Vista and 7? They had a Customer Preview Program with those as well. So, they changed Customer to Consumer, not that drastic of a naming change.

So the beta is the consumer preview. Does it seem possible that the consumer preview is the shipping version for tablets, to get the OS out there sooner?

greenwizard88 said,
So the beta is the consumer preview. Does it seem possible that the consumer preview is the shipping version for tablets, to get the OS out there sooner?

Doubtful.
x86 windows 8 is expected to be on retail shelves this fall/winter. ARM windows 8 may be delayed.

Lexcyn said,
Honestly I am having doubts on whether or not Win8 is going to totally bomb.

The Windows Runtime and thus Metro may not be recieved well by the general public on Desktop.

It's up to Microsoft's development community to look at WinRT and decide if their application would be better written as Metro apps.

Other than that, Windows 8 is much better than Windows 7 even now. Half the RAM usage on base install, and 2/3 install footprint, plus numerous improvements to subsystems to allow them to work better on multicore systems and provide greater scale.

Even if metro/winrt fails to win over desktop users, the OS will still be a resounding success, and be the basis for the next build.
Afterall, they're down to 1 kernel now. It was easy to get rid of WinME due to the shift to NT Kernel with XP.
MS had a tougher time with Vista, as they had to fix the problems, whihch of course led to Windows 7.

Well... Let's see... What missing features should be in the "Consumer Preview" that weren't in the Developer Preview but have been confirmed by Microsoft?...

1) Windows Media Center or some form of it
2) XBox Live Hub
3) Windows Store

Seems like consumer related products to me.

Drewidian said,
Well... Let's see... What missing features should be in the "Consumer Preview" that weren't in the Developer Preview but have been confirmed by Microsoft?...

1) Windows Media Center or some form of it
2) XBox Live Hub
3) Windows Store

Seems like consumer related products to me.

Don't forget desktop and metro versions of minesweeper and solitaire, hearts to I guess.

Saex_Conroy said,
lets point out the name of the official release wont be 8, it will be some code name like vista, or xp

I think the continuity in sequential numbering of Windows Products is here to stay:

WP7 -> WP8
W7 -> W8
XBox 360 -> XBox 361 (jokes)

It is easy for consumers to compare and they don't have to ask which is newer or better... (e.g. XP or Vista) - because of course Windows 8 is better than Windows 7.

lt8480 said,

I think the continuity in sequential numbering of Windows Products is here to stay:

WP7 -> WP8
W7 -> W8
XBox 360 -> XBox 361 (jokes)

It is easy for consumers to compare and they don't have to ask which is newer or better... (e.g. XP or Vista) - because of course Windows 8 is better than Windows 7.

microsoft have said it themselves - they will use a code name

Saex_Conroy said,
microsoft have said it themselves - they will use a code name

I doubt it, if they have said anything it has likely been "Windows 8 is just the internal name and not nessecarily what we're shipping with", they have to my knowledge neither denied that Windows 8 could be the name or confirmed that they will use a more abstract productname á la vista.

FISKER_Q said,

I doubt it, if they have said anything it has likely been "Windows 8 is just the internal name and not nessecarily what we're shipping with", they have to my knowledge neither denied that Windows 8 could be the name or confirmed that they will use a more abstract productname á la vista.


when its officialy out one of us will remember this talk

Well Canouna still states the builds show Windows 8 Beta internally.
Also, I don't care what it's called. As long as I get a Windows 8 build in my hand by late February.

Makes more sense to continue using the word "Preview" through each iteration in its stage of development. Frankly, once you get to RC (or Enterprise/Business Preview), it should be as stable as a release candidate if you want businesses to start working with it. Although I imagine that few will pick it up as they did with Windows 7.

devHead said,
Makes more sense to continue using the word "Preview" through each iteration in its stage of development. Frankly, once you get to RC (or Enterprise/Business Preview), it should be as stable as a release candidate if you want businesses to start working with it. Although I imagine that few will pick it up as they did with Windows 7.

Please - not many businesses have picked up Windows 7 - unless they absolutely had to.

By *businesses*, I'm referring to enterprises - not SMBs. Enterprises can stall on a regular upgrade due to those pesky customized line-of-business applications, where rewriting a single DLL can cost thousands, if not tens of thousands or more - that is, in fact, why Windows XP has hung around behind corproate firewalls. (Same thing applies to IE6.) Those businesses that *have* upgraded to Windows 7 are in no hurry to upgrade to Windows 8 (and no, hateraid drinkers, it has nit to do with Metro) because of the very real concern over being BOHICA'd yet again by those same application developers. The businesses that haven't gone to Windows 7 still likely won't go to Windows 8 (again, it has nada to do with Metro) for cost reasons (the mantra in all of business has been *do more with less* - and that applies to IT budgets as well as other resource budgets). Where Windows 8 (at any stage) does get deployed in businesses will be where it makes more sense than Windows 7 (or an earlier version of Windows) such as kiosks (especially touch-screen kiosks). Enterprise-wide? No chance - not any more than there have been enterprise-wide deployments of 7.

PGHammer said,

Please - not many businesses have picked up Windows 7 - unless they absolutely had to.

Chill bro, I'm just giving my opinion. Since few businesses adopted Windows Vista, many of those finally did switch to Windows 7 after SP1 came out. I can't imagine many of those businesses now also changing again over to Windows 8.

PGHammer said,

......

How many enterprise companies aren't on SA licencing?
SA licensing is what allows them to move between OSes without incurring additional licensing costs.


I know my organization switched to SA specifically so they could stay on WinXP, even though our OEM hardware came pre-installed with Vista.

Now, we're migrating to 7.
We have no plans to upgrade beyond this, for compatability reasons you mentioned above.

Our IT salaries are fixed cost, so if we have no other projects then upgrades become priority.

I'm hoping the added stability of 7 will give our IT folks more time to play with 'preview' softwares.

Makes sense in a way. How many average, not tech savvy, Windows users know what "beta"
means when it comes to software? Especially as the word "beta" sounds like "beater" ... !

What ever they call it, I want it!!

Thought I thought Beta is pretty much the same as Preview (in terms of average Joe's perspective). They just need to have a big pop-up with simple texts "This is not the final UI & features blah blah" Keep it short

It'a very clever call. They are pushing the product to public with whatever **** Preview.

It's unfinished, everyone knows and end customer knows it well.

They want it to make it in different way and breaking traditional alpha, beta, gamma and same applies to how Windows OS works and looks

MtnDewCodeRedFreak said,
And what are we going to call the Release Candidate later on? "Consumer Preview"?

FTA:

Enterprise (or Business) Preview, which would replace the ‘Release Candidate' build

a1ien said,
Enterprise Preview seems illogical. I think Release Candidate is concrete enough.

Yeah. I think it makes sense that they will still call it an RC, because it's not a preview of what Windows 8 will be like when it's released. The RCs are exactly what it will look like at RTM. They don't want to confuse people who make drivers for Windows who use RC to begin working on their updated drivers by using a different name. For all they know, an "enterprise preview" could be beta 2.

MtnDewCodeRedFreak said,
And what are we going to call the Release Candidate later on? "Consumer Preview"?

Enterprise Release Candidate Preview