While we eagerly await the Windows 8 Consumer Preview, which is still expected to come sometime this month, two blogs have leaked numerous screenshots of what appears to be the release. And based on these shots, we can see some important differences between the current build, the Developer Preview, and the coming Consumer Preview.
To view the complete sets of shots of Windows 8 Build 8220, please refer to Trapelati nuovi interessanti screenshot di Windows 8 Consumer Preview on WindowsBlogItalia and Windows 8 Beta Candidate Build 8220 on WinUnleaked. What follows here is a rundown of the changes I see.
Start screen. As expected, the Start screen has been tweaked with new App Bar options, color schemes, and more.
Start mouse-over. I reported yesterday that Microsoft has removed the Start Orb from Windows 8. But when you mouse over that bottom-left-corner of the desktop now, you get a cute little Start screen pop-up to remind you that you can get there.
New icons. While the Windows 8 Developer Preview retains the Windows 7-style desktop icons, the Consumer Preview introduces some new, Metro-style icons, even in the desktop view. These can also be seen on the Start Screen and in the Apps list.
Slightly updated Setup. The interactive Setup routine get a new color scheme for the Beta but remains similar to the one from the Consumer Preview, with the same basic steps.
Explorer. There have been some slight tweaks to the Explorer ribbon, as you can see below. (Consumer Preview on top, Developer Preview on bottom.)
Segregated Apps list. Rather than segregate the Apps list alphabetically, it appears that the Consumer Preview breaks down the list by category.
Charms. The Charms pop-up is translucent, with no overlay, in some shots. But other shots show a black overlay, so it's unclear why it's on sometimes and off others.
A few other notes. Windows To Go appears to be available in this build. Changes to Internet Explorer appear to be minimal from a UI perspective. Aside from the removal of the Start Orb and the icon changes, the desktop looks largely identical to that of the Developer Preview. PC Reset and PC Refresh are available in the classic Control Panel, as they were previously. The Windows Store is allowing users in gradually, and is no longer a placeholder.
All in all, the Consumer Preview leaks look solid, but there's nothing dramatic yet. I can't wait to see more.