MSDN and TechNet subscribers aren't the only ones who can start using Microsoft's new Windows 8 today. The company is offering a 90-day trial version (opens in new tab) of the operating system for anyone who wants to give it a try. Trial users get to install Windows 8 Enterprise edition, either 32-bit or 64-bit, and test the new operating system for three months.
Although anyone can download this trial version, Microsoft states that this evaluation edition is primarily intended for developers and IT professionals who may be "interested in trying Windows 8 Enterprise on behalf of their organization." It is important to note that users will not be able to upgrade to the full version of Windows 8 after this trial expires, so Microsoft recommends installing this version onto a virtual machine or a separate hard drive partition.
After installing the evaluation edition, users will have 10 days to activate the trial. If the operating system isn't activated, or the 90-day period has passed, the the desktop background will turn black and a persistent popup alert will start annoying the user and the computer will shut down every hour without saving any work.
Despite these restrictions, this is the first chance average consumers have to try out the new Windows 8 operating system. If you want to give the trial version a try, we recommend following Microsoft's advice and installing Windows 8 on a virtual machine or in partitioned hard drive space.