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Microsoft to Pull Plug on Windows 8 Consumer Preview in January 2013

Microsoft released its much anticipated Windows 8 Consumer Preview last week and if early impressions are any indication, the company's departure from the standard Windows interface to the new Metro UI is a mixed bag at best. Those mixed reviews mean you'll probably want to download the free trial and try it out for yourself before Microsoft releases the final product on the masses later this year (a firm release date has yet to be set).

But consumer previews eventually end, meaning all of your time spent using them goes out the window, no pun intended. So when will your fancy Windows 8 preview drop dead? According to Windows 8's about screen, you have until Jan. 15, 2013 to have fun with the free beta. What happens at that point isn't exactly clear yet. Will your computer self-immolate?

Well according to Microsoft, once the expiration date passes, you have no right to use the software and may no longer be able to access any of your saved files. Beyond that, however, there are no firm details. When the public beta for Windows 7 ran out, users were able to access the software for one hour at a time before it shut down your system. Microsoft may choose repeat this, but don't hold your breath.

There's no need to worry though. The preview will in all likelihood provide you with plenty of warnings before it finally kicks the bucket and, though the company hasn't announced a release date, the final version of the operating system will likely come out this fall.

So if you're interested in seeing Microsoft's next operating system, you have plenty of time check out the Windows 8 Consumer Preview.