Microsoft's Windows 8 Release Preview looks to hit on May 31

Microsoft may be set to deliver the near-final release preview of Windows 8 to testers as early as May 31, according to an accidentally posted blog entry.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Thanks to an accidental blog post, Microsoft officials may have tipped their hand that the Windows 8 Release Preview -- the final public test build of Windows 8 -- may hit a bit earlier than many expected.

Microsoft officials have been promising for weeks that Windows 8 Release Preview would be available for download during the first week of June. But a May 30 post -- now pulled -- on a new Windows Hardware and Driver Developer blog -- outlined plans for availability for the Release Preview with a "download here" link that slated to go live on May 31.

A few of the folks I follow on Twitter saw the post and wondered aloud whether the Windows 8 team might follow its well-trodden path of underpromising and overdelivering by pushing out the Release Preview earlier than promised.

Neowin.net grabbed a screen capture of the blog post, authored by Chuck Chan, Corporate Vice President of the Windows Development Team, before Microsoft pulled it.

Not only does the pulled post mention the Windows 8 Release Preview, but it also mentions a new Windows Driver Kit 8 and the Visual Studio 2012 Release Preview. Microsoft has been referring to the coming version of Visual Studio as "Visual Studio 11," but I've noted previously that my sources have been saying for months that the final name of the product would be Visual Studio 2012.

There have been a number leaks of the Windows 8 Release Preview bits, with the most recent being this week from WinUnleaked.tk and various Chinese Web sites.

If you want to read the text of the accidentally posted blog entry from Microsoft, one of my readers who requested anonymity sent me a screen capture of it. Here's the text in full:

WindowsHardwareBlog MSFT 0 Points000 Recent Achievements No Achievements Earned. Learn How! View Profile 30 May 2012 3:26 PM

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Welcome to the Windows 8 Hardware blog! I’m Chuck Chan, Corporate Vice President on the Windows Development team. We’re very excited to make available today the Windows 8 Release Preview on the Windows Dev Center. Windows 8 represents a leap forward for the Windows platform, the development tool set, and the device experiences you can build for Windows.

We’re launching this blog to give you some insight into how we designed and built Windows 8, and to explore the best practices for developing great hardware and drivers, as you enter the new world of Windows 8 development. The people contributing to this blog are the engineers building Windows 8 and the tools and kits that support it. Our goal is to help you get started by focusing on the “why” and “how” of building amazing PCs and device experiences for Windows 8. Each blog post will present a development topic and tie together information from the Dev Center, Forums, MSDN Library, and where it makes sense, samples from the Windows Hardware Code Gallery.

We designed the Windows 8 platform and tools to help you create high-quality drivers and Metro style device apps using an integrated, modern tool set. Using the Windows Driver Kit (WDK) and Visual Studio, you can write, build, sign package, deploy, test, and debug your drivers and apps directly from Visual Studio. With the new Windows Hardware Certification Kit, you can ensure the compatibility and reliability of your devices, and provide a great overall user experience.

To get started, download and install Windows 8 Release Preview, the Windows Driver Kit 8, and Visual Studio Professional 2012. The Windows 8 SDK is also included with Visual Studio. As you begin using Windows 8, you’ll notice that we’ve added new features and improved existing ones. In addition to providing a modern tool set, we’ve also been hard at work improving power management and refining the way you provide a great user experience for devices with Metro style device apps. We’ll share more details in future posts.

The Windows Development team will post to this blog once every one to two weeks until the release of Windows 8. Commenting is encouraged, and we are looking forward to a lively conversation. Please apply common courtesy and stay on topic with your comments. The Windows Hardware Community Forum is also a great place for hardware-related questions and discussion about Windows 8.

Microsoft officials still haven't said when they expect to release to manufacturing the Windows 8 bits, but my sources are saying July isn't an impossibility. Previous reports have pegged the launch and general availability of Windows 8 for October of this year.

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