Download Windows 8 Consumer Preview NOW!

We told you that Microsoft today announced the release of its Windows 8 Consumer Preview, and made it available to download for anyone interested. Well, where do you get it?

While it’s not tagged as a beta, the Consumer Preview is still a prerelease edition, unfinished and incomplete, so you need to be very careful where you install it. It’s also much closer to the finished product than the Developer Preview, though, and includes the Windows Store amongst many other interesting new features, so if you’d like to see where Microsoft are going next then it’s well worth a look.

There are two main download options on offer.

1. The Windows 8 Consumer Preview Setup tool is ideal if you want to install the operating system over an existing copy of Windows, or onto a new partition on your hard drive. Run the program and it will check your system for incompatibilities, before downloading a copy of Windows 8 (choosing 32 or 64-bit based to match whatever you’re currently running) along with a product key, before launching the installation for you.

2. The other approach, more sensible if you’re installing the Consumer Preview on a virtual machine, is to grab one of the ISO files. There are 32-bit and 64-bit flavors available. But as you don’t have the Setup tool to grab a product key, you’ll need to enter one manually. Microsoft says you may use NF32V-Q9P3W-7DR7Y-JGWRW-JFCK8

What’s the Consumer Preview like? The Windows application store is the big new feature, but there are also plenty of other changes, and it’s interesting to see that Microsoft have partly addressed some of the criticisms leveled at the Developer Preview, but more on that later.

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