According to sources close to Microsoft, the first beta edition of Windows 8 is to be expected to be released in February of 2012. The Next Web claims to have received information to that effect. Microsoft released the developer preview edition of Windows 8 this September so it would make sense to see the first beta of Windows 8 around February next year.
Alternatively, Winrumors claims that the first stable beta build of Windows 8 will be released in late January, a few weeks earlier, according to their anonymous sources. This would coincide with the Consumer Electronics Show which runs from January 10 to 13.
So I guess we can be pretty certain that we will get to see a stable beta build of Windows 8 in the first two months of 2012. And if the speed at which Windows 7 was developed is to go by, then I’d see we could expect to see the full RTM version around September, which would leave Microsoft with enough time to get to the market for the Christmas period.
Microsoft stressed that the Windows 8 developer preview edition had a lot of features excluded and plenty more that were not finished. They’ve used it more so to judge the feedback from people about the new Metro UI. There’s been several concerns over how user friendly this interface is for people who don’t have touchscreens and there’s also some difficulty with navigating around. Microsoft will hopefully take all this into mind when developing the beta and RTM versions of Windows 8.
So far we don’t know a whole lot about the beta, but it seems that Microsoft will allow users to change the Start Screen colour and background image. Users will also have the ability to create, name and arrange Start Screen groups as well as navigate through the apps in a better fashion. We can also expect to see the Windows Media Center making a return in the beta, alongside Windows Games, DVD Creator etc…