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Windows 8 public beta coming in February

Windows 8, the radical overhaul of Windows that borrows from Windows Phone, is rumoured to be getting a public beta in February.

Windows 8, 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 Windows Phone operating system, like the Nokia Lumia 800. We're big fans of Windows Phone 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 guide on how to install it alongside your existing operating system, something we'd strongly recommend while Windows 8 is still in its early stages.

Are you keen on Windows 8? Or do you swear by the Mac? Is Microsoft past it, or on the way up? Tell us in the comments, or on our Facebook wall.