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Windows president Steven Sinofsky making the announcement in Japan. (Microsoft photo.)

Microsoft will distribute a “release preview” of Windows 8 during the first week of June, getting closer to finishing one of the biggest overhauls in the history of the company’s PC operating system.

Steven Sinofsky, the Windows president, announced the plan during a Windows developer event in Japan tonight, and Microsoft spread the news via Twitter.

The company hasn’t given a final release date yet.

Windows 8 comes with a new tile-based Start screen and interface designed to work across tablets and traditional PCs. Microsoft is counting on Windows 8, in part, to help the company rebound in the tablet computer market against Apple’s iPad and Android tablets.

Last week, Microsoft announced that Windows 8 would come in three primary editions: Windows 8 for consumers; Windows 8 Pro for enthusiasts and business professionals, and a version called Windows RT for machines running ARM processors common in mobile devices — part of the company’s effort to challenge the iPad. A fourth edition of Windows 8 will also be available for large companies.

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