Microsoft has confirmed the date for the Windows 8 ‘Consumer Preview’ release and has chosen to bypass the term beta entirely.
February 29: Windows 8 Consumer Preview Launch For Free Download And Use
Microsoft will launch the Windows 8 Consumer Preview build on the 29th of the February this year. That’s the end of this month and is the one extra day this year because it is a leap year. May be Microsoft is trying to send out a subliminal message. Either that or they just wanted that one extra day to do more bug testing and still keep their promise of releasing it late February. As late as possible that is.
The ‘Consumer Preview’ tag instead of the usual ‘Beta’ has many people confused as to what stage the software actually is in. Well, technically speaking — yes, this is what we would call a ‘Public Beta’ where everyone can join in and try it out. It will be used for the same exact purpose: gather lots of usage data and bug/crash reports to take out all the little chinks and dents before the product hits the market. So why not call it a ‘Beta’?
The main reason for the name is to convince the average user that this is safe for testing. ‘Beta’ sounds all techie and IT. It also gives off a scary ‘unstable’ feeling that might scare off the very average Windows user that Microsoft actually wants to reach out to. That’s why it is a ‘Consumer Preview’.
Also, it is clearly marked as a ‘Preview’ for the regular folk, which tells them that this is soon-to-be-released product that has some unfinished parts that need polishing.
Additionally, the meaning of Beta has now become very lose because companies like Google (Gmail and many more) and Apple (Siri on iPhone 4S) have been using them very loosely to launch extended testing phases without too many apparent problems.