Windows 8 Consumer Preview due February 29

Three weeks to go until you can get your hands on the Windows 8 Consumer Preview. As CNet News reports, Microsoft has revealed the date and the time of the launch: February 29 between 3:00 and 5:00 PM CET (or 9:00 and 11:00 AM EST).

Microsoft will stage an event at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain for the occasion—hence the time zone wackiness. That's an interesting choice of venue. The Mobile World Congress typically sees the release of new mobile devices, not new PC software. Of course, Windows 8 does technically lead a double life as a mobile OS. It will hit both x86 and ARM tablets when it comes out later this year.

In related news, the folks at The Verge say they've learned which Metro apps will ship with the Win8 Consumer Preview. Those are Calendar, Camera, Mail, Messaging, Music, "People," Photos, SkyDrive, and Video. I'm guessing the "People" app will behave like its Windows Phone 7 namesake, offering a centralized contacts hub that interfaces with Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. The others are pretty self-explanatory.

That list made its way to The Verge's editors via "sources familiar with Microsoft's plans," so it may or may not be accurate. Still, it sounds like the Consumer Preview's Metro environment won't be as spare as that of last year's Developer Preview. Hopefully, there are enough pre-installed apps for us all to try a little Metro immersion and see what the fuss is about.

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