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Windows 8 Consumer Preview to debut on February 29

Microsoft is going to use the special date occurring once every four years to unveil the beta version of Windows 8 and make it available for a public download. Mind you, the new name for "Windows 8 Beta" is Windows 8 Consumer Preview.

On February 29, the third day of Mobile World Congress 2012 which takes place in Barcelona, Spain – Microsoft will host an event between 15-17h (3-5PM) Central European Time.

Titled "Windows 8 Consumer Preview", the official name of publicly available Windows 8 Beta (current development releases are Builds 8220 and 8224), the new version of operating system will be the first to target the conventional PC market as well as tablets and smartphones – through Windows Phone 8 (which shares the same kernel, heart of Windows operating system). As you can see in the screenshot above, there is a lot of changes coming to the conventional perception of Windows user interface. First off, you'll note that the orb is no longer in the left corner of the Windows tray… further more, there is a shift from left-centric approach to a right-centric approach, with key icons and controls being positioned on the right.

Naturally, Windows 8 UI enables you a good level of customization, thus we expect to see more and more users moving the bottom tray to the left or right vertical arrangement. Given the shift from 5:4, 4:3 and 16:10 to a wide 16:9 format, we see this as a missed opportunity for Microsoft. The company could have just positioned the tray on the left or right and be gone with it.

Given the press invitations to press conferences and briefings from AMD, Intel, Microsoft, NVIDIA, Qualcomm, Texas Instruments, HTC and others, this year's MWC is a definite do-not-miss event.

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