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Windows 8 beta: January or February 2012?

Windows 8 will have a public beta release sometime in early 2012 but the big question is when exactly will the beta build be made available to the waiting masses. Earlier this week, The Next Web claimed that it had learned via unnamed sources that the beta version of Microsoft's next operating system will launch sometime in late February 2012.

Now a new report from WinRumors, once again based on unnamed sources, claims that the beta release for Windows 8 will occur sometime in late January 2012. That time frame may also be used by Microsoft to release a public preview version of "Office 15", the code name for the next version of Microsoft's software productivity suite.

One thing both reports seem to agree on is that Microsoft will show off a demo of the beta Windows 8 version during the Consumer Electronics Show in early January at Las Vegas. Indeed, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer will be taking the stage to address a crowd at the Venetian Hotel during the evening on January 9, the day before the actual exhibit floor opens at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Microsoft will more than likely add a number of features to the beta version of Windows 8 compared to the public developer's preview version. That was first released in September as part of Microsoft's BUILD conference. Microsoft is still expected to release the final version of Windows 8 sometime in the second half of 2012.

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