In the first hours after Microsoft made the developers' preview of Windows 8 available, developers had already downloaded 500,000 copies of the pre-beta code, the company's chief executive told attendees at Day Two of Microsoft's Build conference in Anaheim Wednesday.
That's just the beginning of the company's initial push to build momentum behind Windows 7's replacement, he added.
"When we ship Windows 8, there will be 500 million Windows devices [in use] that are compatible with it," Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO, told the audience for the sold out conference in what he called Microsoft's "compatibility promise."
During the second day's keynotes at Build, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) executives also announced the debut of pre-release code for Windows 8's server complement -- codenamed Windows Server 8 -- as well as pre-release tools to help developers get started writing applications and building devices that run on it.
The downloads are available to MSDN subscribers. The Windows Server 8 preview is available as of Wednesday.
Steven Sinofsky, Microsoft's president of Windows and Windows Live, announced the technical preview of Windows 8 at the conference's opening keynote Tuesday morning. Attendees at the event received a Samsung tablet computer running the preview code.
Additionally, Wednesday, Satya Nadella, president of Microsoft's Server and Tools Business, announced the release of a developer preview of Visual Studio 11, which features capabilities for writing Windows 8, Windows Server 8, and Windows Azure applications.
The pre-release version of Visual Studio 11 is available to MSDN subscribers Wednesday and to the general public as of Friday.
Other pre-release developer tools that Microsoft debuted at Build included VS11 Team Foundation Server running on Windows Azure public cloud service, the Windows Azure Toolkit for Windows 8, and .NET 4.5.
"It's the day and age of the Windows developer ... Let's move forward together," Ballmer told the audience.