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Microsoft reached a milestone Thursday after releasing the final installment of the Windows 8 Release Preview.

The highly anticipated operating system is now in its final stage of production and will soon be ready for distribution to computer manufacturers. It is currently being displayed at Computex, Asia’s leading IT fair in Taiwan. Several test model PCs are being shown running the latest version of the OS. As of now, no launch date has been released.

With Microsoft’s “Sky Drive” running at the core of Windows 8, the OS will be cloud-centric and have several new features. It will offer the same cross-device file sharing that Apple users currently enjoy. Microsoft boasts that it will offer native support for a multitude of new devices, including smartphones, tablet PCs, desktops and laptops. “It’s really, in some senses, a dawning of the rebirth of MS Windows…It’s certainly the most important piece of work we’ve done,” said chief executive Steve Ballmer. Microsoft hopes to expand its smartphone market with the release of a new OS and claims that Windows 8 will be more compatible with mobile devices. They hope the appeal of a sleeker look and optimized features will lure consumers back to the Windows brand. The company has previously struggled to compete in the smartphone market with Windows OS phones doing notoriously poorly in comparison to Apple and Android. Ballmer predicts that cloud computing will be dominated by a handful of big name players in the next few years.

Windows 8 will be Microsoft’s attempt to nudge their way into the competition and make a name for themselves as service providers. Asus and Acer have already announced plans to launch Windows 8 tablets and PCs.

The initial preview that went live in February was downloaded over one million times within the first day. Test copies of the new OS can be downloaded at preview.windows.com.

 
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