Microsoft offers summer sneak preview of Windows 8

Microsoft Windows 8 interface
Image caption Windows 8 is set for a full launch in the autumn

Microsoft has announced that a second preview version of its new operating system will be available in June.

Windows 8 represents a radical overhaul for the company as it attempts to capture the tablet market as well as feed its traditional PC cash-cow.

Windows president Steven Sinofsky said that the "release preview" would be the closest yet to the final version.

Microsoft has not said when that would be available, but most commentators point to an October release.

Three flavours

Mr Sinofsky revealed the preview to delegates at a Windows Developer Days event in Japan.

He has previously said that the new OS would be the most significant redesign since Windows 95.

The trademark Windows "Start" button will no longer appear, replaced by a sliding panel-based menu.

It also offers a new user interface called Metro - designed for touch gesture controls - as well as a more traditional desktop design.

As well as powering computers running traditional processors from Intel and AMD, the OS will also run on new tablets and devices running low-power ARM-based processors.

Last week Microsoft announced that it was releasing a simplified number of versions.

Alongside the ARM edition - dubbed Windows RT - the software giant will release just two flavours - Windows 8 and Windows Pro.

The Windows 8 developer preview launched late last year and has prompted more than 100,000 changes.

The first public preview launched in February.

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