4 out of 5
Microsoft’s Windows 8 Release Preview, which gives users an up close and personal look at what the final build will feel like, is available for download now. We expected to get our hands-on this preview in early June, but it seems Microsoft just couldn’t wait for folks to experience what its next big OS has to offer. And it’s free!

The final pre-release includes a look at Microsoft’s famous (or infamous) Metro UI, along with a tiny glimpse at some Windows 8 apps, such as Hotmail, SkyDrive and Messenger. The Release Preview also introduces a number of performance and stability fixes over the earlier glimpse folks got.

If you want to toy around with a preview version of Windows 8, you can head on over to Microsoft’s site to pick it up for yourself.

Below are the system requirements to get the preview up and running, according to Microsoft:

  • Processor: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster
  • RAM: 1 gigabyte (GB) (32-bit) or 2 GB (64-bit)
  • Hard disk space: 16 GB (32-bit) or 20 GB (64-bit)
  • Graphics card: Microsoft DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM driver

Additional requirements to use certain features:

  • To use touch, you need a tablet or a monitor that supports multitouch.
  • To access the Windows Store and to download and run apps, you need an active Internet connection and a screen resolution of at least 1024 x 768.
  • To snap apps, you need a screen resolution of at least 1366 x 768.
  • Internet access (ISP fees might apply)

[via Microsoft]