, the newest version of Microsoft's ubiquitous operating system, could be going into public beta early in 2012.
The news comes via The Next Web, which cites 'sources close to Microsoft', and reckons the world will be getting a peek at the future of Windows in late February.
Windows 8 will feature the same colourful tiled 'Metro' interface that you can see now on devices running the operating system, like the Nokia Lumia 800. We're and its clean, intuitive interface, so we're keen to see whether it will work for desktop PCs and tablets.
Windows 8 isn't all patchwork and widgets though -- lurking beneath the surface is the all-too-familiar 'desktop' version of Windows that most of us are using today.
It's unclear whether that desktop version will be present on Windows 8 tablets -- our sister site ZDNet reckons that Microsoft may drop that feature from slates running the new operating system.
We reckon that would be a smart move, especially if Microsoft wants to make Windows tablets a slick alternative to the iPad.
It's anyone's guess when Windows 8 will be properly released, but expect to see it in the second half of 2012. If you want to try it right now, there's already a developer version available to install. We've published a, something we'd strongly recommend while Windows 8 is still in its early stages.