Along with the Windows 8 Consumer Preview, Microsoft has moved the Windows Store into beta, and a number of Metro applications from Microsoft and other vendors are available for free use during the preview period. According to Microsoft officials, "The Windows Store will offer personalized recommendations, and Windows 8 gives users the ability to take their apps and settings with them across multiple PCs, making it easy to discover and try new apps".
If you are using multiple devices, the preview supports Microsoft's cloud services to support features including roaming settings, cloud storage, and email, calendar and contacts. These capabilities extend to Windows Phones as well as Windows 8.
Windows 8 previewers also get to try Internet Explorer 10 Platform Preview 5. Features include an 'edge-to-edge interface' (ie, less 'chrome' and more content) and hardware acceleration.
The hardware requirements for Windows 8 Consumer Preview are basically the same as those for Windows 7, plus a multitouch display if you want to try the touch features. Netbook owners may be in for a disappointment, as the Windows Store and the apps available there require a minimum resolution of 1024x768 rather than the 1024x600 provided by many machines in this class. Perhaps Windows 8 supports downscaling (see, eg, 1024x768 resolution on netbook with Windows 7), which could provide a workaround if you don't want to use an external monitor.
He added that Microsoft strongly recommends a hardware installation to get the full experience (as opposed to running the preview on a virtual machine), and said various quality updates and drivers will be delivered in the coming weeks and months: "Please keep in mind that this is a test release of a product still under development."