Suddenly, you can see it happening: A future in which Microsoft melds the traditional Windows desktop with the highly mobile and highly connected devices that are just now exploding isn't just possible. It's a sure thing.

Microsoft on Wednesday unleashed its nearly feature-complete Windows 8 Consumer Preview to the public. This new pre-release milestone, called the Beta internally, is one of just a handful of public releases the company plans before delivering the final version of the OS in an expected Q4 2012 timeframe. But it's already got the Internet buzzing.

"Get psyched," commentator and professional Apple promoter David Pogue wrote from his column at the New York Times. "With Windows 8, Microsoft has sweated the details, embraced beauty and simplicity, and created something new and delightful." 

"A Silicon Valley startup called Lytro is shipping a camera this week that actually lets you focus or refocus your pictures on a computer after you take them," commentator and professional Apple promoter Walt Mossberg wrote from his equally lofty perch at the Wall Street Journal.

Wait, what?

OK, so Mr. Mossberg hasn't opined on Windows 8 yet, but then why would he with other such exciting topics to discuss this week? The point, however, is simple: Even Microsoft's biggest critics—and Apple's biggest public backers—love Windows 8. Well, assuming they give it the time of day, that is.

"We really are on the threshold of a whole new era of personal computing,
 USA Today's more moderate Ed Baig noted in his own review. "I'm impressed by what I see."

So am I, Ed. So am I.

You can find my own voluminous coverage of the Windows 8 Consumer Preview on the SuperSite for Windows, which currently consists of about 20 articles, soon to be bolstered by several more covering various installation-related topics. Interest in this milestone was so great that readers brought our web servers crashing down to the ground at least twice yesterday.

But if you're interested in the official word on Windows 8, for some reason—I recommend sticking with independent third parties like yours truly, for example, but you never know—Microsoft has finally posted its Windows 8 Consumer Preview press conference video online. This is from Wednesday's 90-minute event where Microsoft President Steven Sinofsky and friends unveiled the milestone to the public.

More soon.