Rumours indicate that the public beta of Windows 8 might be coming as soon as February, 2012. It follows the developer preview which was released some time back. The developer Preview had provided only a peek at all the features that are to be assembled into Windows 8 retail. It is still unknown about what features will be unveiled in the public beta or the release date of the final retail.
On another note Peter Thurrott, the noted journalist on Windows family predicts that the tablet-version of Windows 8 may not feature PC software. It would instead provide only Metro styled apps similar to the ones currently available in Windows Phone 7. Such a move would put the tablets in direct competition with iPad and several Android tablets. He argues that provided the limited screen real estate, power and memory space available in a tablet, PC apps like Office and Photoshop would not work well.
However the desktop apps, if optimized for both tablets and PCs would work wonders as the users would then be able to actually resume their work on their tablets if they do not have their notebooks or desktops handy. But then it would also require an iCloud-like service that can sync with several devices in real-time. That would only be known when the retail and OEM versions are released.