Microsoft To Launch Windows 8 Consumer Preview At MWC On February 29

While Samsung’s new low-key approach to MWC may have some gadget fans feeling blue, Microsoft’s plans for MWC just made things much more interesting. The company has begun to send out press invitations to an event at this year’s Mobile World Congress where they will officially launch the Windows 8 Consumer Preview.

The invitation is understandably light on details, but the event is slated to take place between 3 and 5PM CET.

Though members of the tech press have managed to get some hands-on time with early builds of Windows 8 in the past, the consumer preview is a considerable milestone for Microsoft in that the general public will finally get their chance take the new OS for a spin. The new Metro UI, seen above, is one of the most striking new additions to Windows, but other changes run much deeper than that. Compatibility with ARM processors is a first for Windows 8, and a renewed focus on getting the OS onto devices with different form factors means that Windows 8 isn’t just a rehash of the same old Microsoft philosophy.

Not that the general public would even notice that. They’ll be much to busy poking around with the build’s preloaded apps and games to bother checking under the hood.

That Microsoft would choose to put their latest OS in the hands of the public at a wireless conference is a bit of head-scratcher when you consider their very public exit from keynoting at CES. Recent reports point to deep connection between Windows 8 and the forthcoming Windows Phone 8 mobile platform though, and what better way to make that connection concrete than at Mobile World Congress?