The new OS will bring a ton of improvements including Metro which will feature an entirely redesigned UI, less painful Windows Update process, faster boots, decreased OS resource consumption, and improved file transfers, a streamlined upgrade process for the initial installation and switching to a primarily online sales distribution model.
The system recommendations for the Consumer Preview include:
- 1 GHz or faster processor
- 1 GB RAM (32-bit) or 2 GB RAM (64-bit)
- 16 GB available hard disk space (32-bit) or 20 GB (64-bit)
- DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver
One new element to Windows 8 is the requirement that Metro style applications have a minimum of 1024x768 screen resolution, and 1366x768 for the snap feature. If you attempt to launch a Metro style app with less than this resolution (e.g. 800x600, 1024x600) you will receive an error message. For this reason MS is suggesting that you do not run the preview in a virtual machine. For now they are suggesting a full install. You can upgrade from the Developer Preview or directly from Windows 7, or install a fresh clean installation. I recommend the later, with a dual boot option just in case there are issues.
You can download the Consumer Preview starting now at http://preview.windows.com.
For more details checkout the following posts from Microsoft: