With the Windows 8 Consumer Preview having released amid rave reviews on last month’s leap year day, the rumor mill is already touting the Release Candidate to make an appearance as early as late May.

For those uninitiated, a release candidate is not, by any means, final, but is expected to be very functional/ stable, and give a relatively strong indication of what the end-user release will include.

The consensus regarding the Consumer Preview seems to draw a favorable conclusion, with many PC users seemingly happy with the much-altered eighth version of the Windows OS. Taking a leaf from the Apple stork, the Redmond-based software maker will operate a centralized store from which apps can be downloaded, and there will be deep integration with mobile devices.

Windows 8 Metro logo

Citing unnamed sources, WinUnleaked.tk seems to reckon the RC version of Windows 8 will be available to download from May or early June. Of course, unspecified tipsters are notoriously hit-and-miss when it comes to reliability, so make of that what you will; however, it does tie in rather nicely with other speculation which gathers Microsoft will be launching the final version of Windows 8 – for 32 and 64-bit processors – around October time.

As well as info talking of the release date, the article also talks of changes to expect – most of which are tweaks to the interface. If the information is to be taken as Gospel, the Charm bar, Language input menu, and Internet Explorer 10 (Desktop version) will receive a few touch ups, and there may be a few more color options added to the pallet.

Additionally, the Customer Experience Improvement Program feature – which lets Windows 8 users voice their opinions and queries directly to Microsoft – will be disabled by default.

Win8CP

With talk of Windows 8 tablets cropping up on a regular basis, it’s certainly going to be an interesting year for the Ballmer-led outfit. As well as the obvious task of retained dominance on the desktop front, Microsoft certainly has the means to mount a serious challenge to the popularity of Apple’s iOS on the tablet front, too.

The iPad has ruled the tablet market with an iron fist for the past two years, but with many consumers apparently subscribing to the Metro design, maybe Microsoft mount the challenge Google has overtly struggled to since the 2010 release of the original iPad.

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