In January Microsoft promised that the public beta of Windows 8 -- now dubbed as Windows 8 Consumer Preview -- would launch by the end of February. Microsoft apparently wasn't kidding, as the beta OS will reportedly go public on the very last day of February: Leap Day AKA February 29.
The news arrives after Microsoft sent out email invitations to a special two-hour Consumer Preview event at MWC 2012 in Barcelona. It's reported that Microsoft will go live with the public beta during that event although the Redmond-based company has not made any official announcements backing the reports.
As previously reported, the Consumer Preview will come packed with a small list of Metro-style apps and two games. The Windows Store, which will supposedly open its doors in a limited fashion once the public beta goes live, will provide eleven gaming titles and possibly other apps. The initial supply of apps will supposedly be free, with paid apps coming this fall.
Also this week brought reports that Microsoft has removed the Start Button for this release, thus allowing the Windows 7 "Superbar" to dominate the entire bottom portion of the screen. The news derives from build 8220 of the Consumer Preview which leaked over the weekend. That said, after years of pressing the Start button since its introduction in Windows 95, it will be interesting to see how we'll manage without it.
If reports are true, we'll find out in exactly three weeks.