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Ever since the news of Microsoft’s Windows 8 developer preview being released to the masses was unleashed, the reaction has been pretty spectacular, with in excess of 500,000 PC users giving the preview of the new OS a whirl.

Microsoft’s approach in general seems to have shifted somewhat for the better. Windows 8 itself is brings in some of the most significant changes to date and looks a lot more in-keeping with the times. Additionally, early alpha releases such as this are usually only accessible to registered developers, so by allowing mere mortals a preview, Microsoft has certainly gained some brownie points with potential consumers.

Comments from those present at the BUILD conference suggest that there hasn’t been quite so much excitement surrounding Microsoft for quite some time, and to our surprise, the attendees at the BUILD conference have also given a spectacular feedback to the overall event and Windows 8 itself. 500,000 download and counting, a number which is surely not a joke.

To add a shade of perspective, rivals Apple achieved a million downloads of OS X Lion via the Mac App Store on launch date, which exceeded expectations and was the first time a major OS was released as download-only. While Microsoft’s 500,000 (in less than 24 hours) is only half of that achieved by its Cupertino counterpart, it pays to remember that the Windows 8 release is just at early Alpha stage, and is many months away from completion, whereas Lion was the all-singing, all-dancing end product.

Such enthusiasm is bound to spur on the developers into seeing the new Windows as a worthwhile investment, meaning the potential for a wide variety of well-polished apps is huge. It is key that developers get behind new operating systems in order for them to survive, and if this initial response is anything to go by, Windows 8 could quite easily wind up being Microsoft’s most well-received OS to date.

Have you tested it out yet? If you want to get a taste of things to come from Microsoft’s latest operating system, here are the official download links courtesy the Microsoft website:

The 32-bit version is 2.8GB, whilst the 64-bit versions are 3.6GB, so it may take a little while for those of you with slower connections.

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