Microsoft has published the final pre-release version of Windows 8 to the general public. Named Windows 8 Release Preview, the code offers consumers a final glimpse of what’s coming in Windows 8 with “tens of thousands of under-the-hood changes” from the Consumer Preview, according to Windows chief, Steven Sinofsky.

Over the last few months, Microsoft engineers have been building out additional features for the the platform, most notably Windows’ new app store and adding polish to the user experience as the code is prepared for release. Expect to see some additional changes to Windows 8 before its final release, however, as stated by Sinofsky in today’s blog post announcing the release,”The changes we make to the product from RP to RTM are all carefully considered and deliberate, including some specific feature changes we plan on making to the user experience. This is a routine part of the late stages of bringing a complex product like Windows to market.”

Whilst the release will undoubtedly cause a ripple amongst Windows enthusiasts, Microsoft still has a lot of work to do persuading the wider tech community to upgrade willingly. A recent Windows 8 poll ran by WGS highlighted mixed feelings on upgrading amongst our readers, with just 37% stating a desire to upgrade to the new platform. With intense focus in Redmond on “re-imagining” Windows for tablets over the last few years, perhaps more disappointing for the company is that just 35% of readers are considering the purchase of any Windows 8 tablet, and only 14% considering a Windows RT based machine running Microsoft’s scaled down ARM code.

Of course, Windows 8 will shift in volume, courtesy of OEM pre-installation on millions of PCs sold in the coming years – but the world has moved on since the release of Windows 7 back in 2009. Microsoft will be hoping that the changes made in Windows 8 will keep the brand, and the platform relevant against intense competition from Apple and Google.

Download: Windows 8 Release Preview