Microsoft has released the public beta version of the firm's make-or-break 'reimagined' Windows operating system.

Windows 8 Consumer Preview arrives

Microsoft has made available the Windows 8 Consumer Preview for download in the first public demonstration of the ‘reimagined’ Windows operating system.

Launching the new renamed public beta version of Windows 8 at Mobile World Congress 2012, Windows president Steven Sinofsky called Windows 8 a "generational change" and said that the OS would "come naturally to people."

The offered download is a 5MB live installer that will install the OS on the machine it’s run on although there are also more traditional ISO images to download as well. The 32-bit version weighs in at 2.5GB and the 64-bit variant slightly larger at 3.3GB.

Microsoft’s servers seem to be holding up despite the stampede. Microsoft’s Visual Studio chief Habib Heydarian also posted a handy blog post describing a couple of different ways of creating a bootable USB flash drive.

Windows 8 will also provide the first look at Microsoft’s Windows Store, the firm’s entry into mobile-like world of ‘apps’ for the desktop. The Consumer Preview only allows downloading of free applications and you’ll need a Microsoft ID to log in (Hotmail, Messenger, Windows Live etc).

The preview also shows off Microsoft’s first serious attempt to make a touch-sensitive UI and offers a range of gestures for users of tablets and PCs with touch screens.

The software giant has also posted a range of introductory videos on the various new Windows 8 features on the Windows 8 Consumer Preview site.

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