Microsoft has already cooked up a special Bing page tempting users to check out its upcoming Windows 8 "Consumer Preview."
The first clue is the video of a betta fish swimming from one edge of the screen to the other. Thought of as Microsoft's mascot for beta versions of new operating systems, that particular fish swam its way onto the desktop of the beta for Windows 7 in 2009.
But other more obvious clues are the hot spots and links scattered across the screen that refer specifically to Windows 8 Consumer Preview. Since the page is still a work in progress, most of the links don't yet work. The only two that do bring you to a page for developers eager to create Metro-based apps and another one for Microsoft's Building Windows 8 blog.
Due to launch by the end of the month, the Consumer Preview is Microsoft's newly-christened name for the beta of Windows 8, a follow-up to the Developer Preview unveiled last September. But the Developer Preview has triggered some complaints and concerns among the Microsoft faithful.
PC users in particular have been jarred by the emphasis on the Metro UI and touch-based devices, with some feeling that the new OS is less friendly to those relying on mouse and keyboard. Microsoft has been open about the changes in Windows 8 though its Building Windows 8 blog series and at the same time responsive to certain criticism.
The company has already tweaked Windows 8 since the Developer Preview to provide more flexibility to the Metro UI, Windows Explorer, and other key features.
Microsoft has also stressed that the Developer Preview was an early glimpse of the new OS and has promised that the Consumer Preview will be different.
Still, Windows 8 does represent a radical change over previous versions of Windows. Microsoft has taken on a risky bet of trying to make its next OS all things to all people, or rather, to all devices. The upcoming Consumer Preview should better answer the question of whether that bet will pay off.