Microsoft has announced that a beta version of Windows 8 will be arriving for our delectation in February.

The software giant's next generation operating system is on track for its release in 2012, and the beta release date of February 2012 has now been confirmed.

Although a final Windows 8 UK release date has not yet been announced, we have already been afforded a chance to play with the OS, which you can read all about in our hands on Windows 8 review.

Metro

Windows 8 brings the Metro interface, which features heavily in the Windows Phone 7 operating system, and provides finger-friendly tiles that will make Windows more tenable for tablets.

The current early version has won plaudits for some of its implementation of touch, but remains very much a work in progress, with the transition from Metro to a more traditional desktop still jarring.

That will no doubt be one of the things that the beta version looks to address, along with improvements to the Windows 8 app navigation.