Microsoft on Thursday delivered the Windows 8 Release Preview, the final pre-release milestone of its next OS. The Windows 8 Release Preview along with related releases such as the Windows Server 2012 Release Candidate (RC) and Visual Studio 2012 RC, come about a week earlier than expected. Is this a sign that Microsoft is revving up to deliver these products earlier in the year than was assumed?

“Today, Windows 8 Release Preview is available for download in 14 languages,” Microsoft’s Steven Sinofsky wrote in the Building Windows 8 blog post announcing the release. “This is our final pre-release, and includes Windows 8, Internet Explorer 10, new Windows 8 apps for connecting to Hotmail, SkyDrive, and Messenger (and many more), and hundreds of new and updated apps in the Windows Store.”

As I did with the Windows 8 Consumer Preview, I’ve provided a ton of content for the Windows 8 Release Preview, and I'll be bolstering this list with more articles in the coming days:

Windows 8 Release Preview: The Ultimate Delta Guide

It’s Here! The Windows 8 Release Preview Arrives

Windows 8 Release Preview: Screenshot Gallery

Windows 8 Release Preview: Changes to Windows Setup

Windows 8 Release Preview: New Trackpad Gesture Support

Windows 8 Release Preview: Add Features to Windows 8

Windows 8 Release Preview: Changes to the Digital Media Apps

Windows 8 Release Preview: New Metro-Style Apps

Windows 8 Release Preview: Changes to the Start Screen

Windows 8 Release Preview: Metro Color Schemes Screenshot Gallery

Windows 8 Release Preview: Changes to the Live Apps

Windows 8 Release Preview: Changes to the Bing Apps

Windows 8 Release Preview: Changes to Internet Explorer 10

Windows 8 Release Preview: Changes to the Windows Desktop

Windows 8 Release Preview: Changes to PC Settings

Microsoft hinted that the final version of Windows 8 could be coming a lot sooner than expected. “If the feedback and telemetry on Windows 8 and Windows RT match our expectations, then we will enter the final phases of the RTM process in about 2 months,” Mr. Sinofsky wrote, suggesting an early August RTM.  “If we are successful in that, then we are tracking to our shared goal of having PCs with Windows 8 and Windows RT available for the holidays.”

Microsoft also revealed that the Windows 8 Upgrade Offer will begin June 2, 2012, in 131 markets, including the United States and Canada, and confirmed my earlier report that this offer will cost just $15. Those who purchase eligible computers during the offering time will receive a copy of Windows 8 Pro.

If you’re interested in downloading the Windows 8 Release Preview or the other related releases from this week, please refer to the following list:

Windows 8 Release Preview (x86, x64)

Windows Server 2012 Release Candidate (x64 only)

Visual Studio 2012 Express RC for Windows 8

Visual Studio 2012 Release Candidate Downloads (various versions)