Microsoft to launch Windows 8 Consumer Preview at MWC

The Windows 8 Consumer Preview is launching in Barcelona during the Mobile World Congress on February 29.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft is holding an event at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona on February 29 to launch the Windows 8 Consumer Preview.

The event will be a two-hour affair (from 3 pm to 5 pm) on Wednesday.

February 29 also happens to be the last day of February. Microsoft officials have said the Consumer Preview, aka the public beta, is slated to arrive at the end of February.

Microsoft officials said last fall that Microsoft planned to deliver a developer preview (which went out in September), a single beta (the Consumer Preview), a Release Candidate and then release Windows 8 to manufacturing.

Microsoft officials continue to decline to provide a ship target for Windows 8, though it is widely believed at this point that it will be available on new PCs and tablets starting this fall.

Microsoft's top brass also has continued to decline to say whether the x86 and ARM versions of Windows 8 will ship simultaneously. However, a member of the company's communications team said this was the plan a couple of months ago.

For those asking whether the Windows 8 Consumer Preview launch will be Webcast, there's no definitive answer at this time.  A spokesperson said when I asked: "There will be lots of online content on Microsoft News Center the week of February 29th. "

I have to say, other than the fact that the MWC show happens to fall at the end of February, this strikes me as an odd place to launch the Windows 8 public beta. MWC is a gadget show. And sure, Microsoft wants to position Windows 8 tablets as mobile consumer gadgets -- but supposedly Windows 8 is an operating system for business users, too, right?

Who knows: Maybe we'll hear Microsoft open up on the shared Windows Phone 8/Windows 8 kernel components at the Barcelona launch party? I have to say, I'm still doubtful company brass will be ready to talk about "Apollo" yet, however, because of potential chilling effects on the current Windows Phone market.

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