Microsoft’s Windows 8 Release Preview will be available for download on Thursday, May 31–tomorrow–according to a post on the Windows Hardware and Driver Developer Blog. The post, which was written by Windows Development Corporate Vice President Chuck Chan, was accidentally published ahead of schedule. Microsoft quickly discovered the mistake, but not before the cat was out of the bag.

The near-final version of the Redmond software giant’s operating system was originally expected to become available sometime during the first week of June, and more recently was rumored to go live on Friday, June 1. We don’t really know why Microsoft decided to move up the release date up to tomorrow. The company could be trying to put more distance between the Windows 8 Release Preview and Apple’s WWDC conference. Of course, it could also be as simple as having the build done early and wanting to get a head start on the weekend.

The Windows 8 Hardware Blog, as it is more casually known, is currently devoid of content, but the premature post can still be found on Bing in the form of a cached page. Attempting to subscribe to the blog’s RSS feed in Google Reader pulls it up as well.

Chan’s post includes a link to the Windows 8 Release Preview, as well as Visual Studio Professional 2012, Windows Driver Kit 8, and the Windows 8 SDK. The links aren’t working yet, but May 31 is only a few hours away. We knew the release date for the Windows 8 Consumer Preview a bit further in advance, but if Microsoft follows the same pattern, the OS should be available for download sometime early tomorrow morning.

The full post, which officially announces the Windows 8 Release Preview and discusses the purpose of the Windows 8 Hardware Blog, can be found below.

Welcome to the Windows 8 Hardware blog! I’m Chuck Chan, Corporate Vice President on the Windows Development team. We’re very excited to make available today the Windows 8 Release Preview on the Windows Dev Center. Windows 8 represents a leap forward for the Windows platform, the development tool set, and the device experiences you can build for Windows. We’re launching this blog to give you some insight into how we designed and built Windows 8, and to explore the best practices for developing great hardware and drivers, as you enter the new world of Windows 8 development.

The people contributing to this blog are the engineers building Windows 8 and the tools and kits that support it. Our goal is to help you get started by focusing on the “why” and “how” of building amazing PCs and device experiences for Windows 8. Each blog post will present a development topic and tie together information from the Dev Center, Forums, MSDN Library, and where it makes sense, samples from the Windows Hardware Code Gallery.

We designed the Windows 8 platform and tools to help you create high-quality drivers and Metro style device apps using an integrated, modern tool set. Using the Windows Driver Kit (WDK) and Visual Studio, you can write, build, sign package, deploy, test, and debug your drivers and apps directly from Visual Studio. With the new Windows Hardware Certification Kit, you can ensure the compatibility and reliability of your devices, and provide a great overall user experience.

To get started, download and install Windows 8 Release Preview, the Windows Driver Kit 8, and Visual Studio Professional 2012. The Windows 8 SDK is also included with Visual Studio. As you begin using Windows 8, you’ll notice that we’ve added new features and improved existing ones. In addition to providing a modern tool set, we’ve also been hard at work improving power management and refining the way you provide a great user experience for devices with Metro style device apps. We’ll share more details in future posts.

The Windows Development team will post to this blog once every one to two weeks until the release of Windows 8. Commenting is encouraged, and we are looking forward to a lively conversation. Please apply common courtesy and stay on topic with your comments. The Windows Hardware Community Forum is also a great place for hardware-related questions and discussion about Windows 8.

We can’t wait to see the amazing devices and experiences you’re building for Windows 8 come to life!

Chuck Chan, May 31 2012

[Windows Hardware and Driver Developer Blog (cached) via The Next Web]