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Microsoft will offer a “release preview” version of its highly anticipated new operating system Windows 8 in early June, according to Windows unit President Steven Sinofsky, who spoke at a company event in Japan today.

Windows 8 is part of Microsoft’s strategy to integrate both personal computers with tablets and other mobile devices — much in the same way Apple has done with its OS X operating system and its iOS mobile OS. The new version of Windows features Microsoft’s Metro theme, which is already seen on the company’s Xbox gaming console as well as its Windows Phone 7 OS. The Metro user interface is also radically different, with the company yanking familiar staples like the start button.

Microsoft has already released two versions of the OS for testing, with the latest being the Consumer Preview in February. We still don’t know how long Microsoft is planning to wait before pushing out the final version to retail shelves. Earlier reports have said that the final release date could be as far out at October — something I found a bit odd considering how much ground Microsoft has already lost to Apple and Google in the way of PC-to-mobile integrated services.

Much like previous releases, Microsoft is releasing a consumer (standard) and pro version of Windows 8. There will also be a RT version for devices that use low-powered ARM processors.

Photo: Devindra Hardawar/VentureBeat

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