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Windows 8 'release preview' to give sneak peek in June

Microsoft has confirmed an almost-baked version of Windows 8 will be released in June.

Microsoft has confirmed an almost-baked version of Windows 8 will be released in the first week of June, signalling that code for the next edition of Windows is nearly ready for the final release.

Dubbed the 'Release Preview', the Redmond tech giant announced the news of the new sneak-peek software via the Building Windows 8 Twitter account. This will be the next version of Windows 8 to be made available, following the 'Consumer Preview' that went live at the beginning of March.

There's no official word on when Windows 8 will launch, but autumn seems a smart bet.

A picture tweeted by Microsoft shows a slide bearing the old Windows logo, rather than the chic new Metro-styled doodle. But fear not -- the company said on Twitter that it was simply an oversight.

Windows 8 brings the colourful tiles first sighted on Windows Phone to the company's desktop offering. It's a radical overhaul for the ubiquitous operating system, but risks alienating computer users who are familiar with old-school editions like Windows XP or Windows Vista.

Microsoft also has on eye on the tablet market. The sleek Metro interface has been designed with touchscreens in mind, but the operating system will need some compelling hardware to back it up -- something a bit more affordable than this little number I suspect.

We know that Windows 8 will arrive in three flavours -- Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro (adding IT-friendly gubbins like better encryption and domain control), and Windows retweet RT, which will arrive on tablets and gadgets running on ARM chips, and is expected to put less strain on your processor.

It'll also come bundled with 'touch-optimised' desktop versions of Microsoft Office software, which sounds about as much fun as banging your shin on a table leg.

Are you keen on Windows 8? Or will Microsoft's latest tablet-friendly effort be crushed by the likes of Apple? Let me know in the comments, or on our Facebook wall.