Windows 8 Consumer Preview nearly done, Office 15 screenshots leak

By on February 23, 2012, 3:30 PM

On track with its previously shared schedule, Microsoft has reportedly stopped compiling beta builds and is preparing to sign off on the Consumer Preview of Windows 8 tomorrow. The build (8250) will be unveiled during a special event coinciding with Mobile World Congress in Barcelona next Wednesday at 9AM ET. The public beta will feature many controversial changes announced in recent months, including the updated Windows logo and a new "Charms bar" in favor of the tried and true Start menu.

Windows 8 Build 8220 (via PCBeta)

Several games will come preinstalled on the Consumer Preview, including Pinball and Solitaire, while a preview version of the Windows Store will offer titles such as Angry Birds. Developers will be able to publish free apps through the Windows Store, or charge between $1.49 and $999 per download (Microsoft initially takes a 30% slice, which is reduced to 20% after an app exceeds $25,000 in sales). The beta operating system will also be bundled with various social and multimedia applications.

Along with an update on Windows 8, screenshots of Office 15's Technical Preview have leaked courtesy of a tipster working with The Verge. Although the interface hasn't received a drastic overhaul, Microsoft is clearly trying to clean things up by tweaking default options, such as minimizing the oft-criticized Ribbon menu. The suite also uses a fullscreen "backstage" menu similar to Office 2010's. Outlook 15 has the most visible interface tweaks with a Metro-style navigation at the bottom of the program.

Outlook 15 Technical Preview

As we've said before, considering Microsoft's emphasis on cross-platform integration and mobile-friendly interfaces, Metro is bound to crop up in the company's latest productivity suite. The Technical Preview is offered to select customers under a non-disclosure agreement, so details are still limited. Office 15 (likely to be marketed as "Office 2013") is expected to hit public beta sometime this summer with a final launch rumored to be scheduled alongside Windows 8 in October or November.

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