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June 'Release Preview' for Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 Announced

Microsoft announced yesterday that it plans to release another test version of Windows 8, called a "release preview," in the first week of June.

The announcement was made by Windows and Windows Live Division President Steven Sinofsky at a Windows 8 Dev Days conference in Japan. Microsoft is using new terms to describe its Windows 8 releases. Possibly, the release preview stage might be something like Microsoft's old "release candidate" term. By release candidate, Microsoft meant a stage in which the software bugs are fixed but the basic features of the operating system aren't changed.

Currently, Windows 8 is available for testing as a "consumer preview," having been issued in that form in late February. The OS was at the "developer preview" stage back in September when it was announced at Microsoft's Build conference for developers.

The traditional nomenclature for Microsoft's public software releases has been "beta," "release candidate," "release to manufacturing" and "general availability." General availability is the actual product launch. It's thought that Windows 8 will be available as a product sometime in the fall of this year, although Microsoft hasn't confirmed a date.

Microsoft also announced this week that the "release candidate" of Windows Server 2012, which is the actual product name for formerly code-named "Windows Server 8," will be publicly available in a close timeframe with the Windows 8 release preview. Jeffrey Snover, distinguished engineer and the lead architect for the Windows Server Division, made the announcement in this blog post.

Snover's use of the familiar "release candidate" term probably signifies that nothing has substantially changed in the number of Microsoft's software releases before product release. Only the names seem to have changed.

Client and server Windows releases now are timed somewhat closely. Microsoft started up a policy of aligning its client and server code bases back when it released Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008. Still, some expert Microsoft observers thought that the dual-platform nature of Windows 8, being built for both x86/x64 and ARM silicon, along with the many substantial changes in Windows Server 2012, would cause the two products to arrive at different times. However, Microsoft is now saying it will deliver both products this year.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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