Microsoft's Windows 8 Start button has been removed but new screenshots leaked today offer a closer look at an improved charms bar and desktop experience in the company's "Consumer Preview" release. Chinese site PCBeta has supplied a number of new screenshots from build 8220, a near-final copy of Windows 8 Consumer Preview, that confirm the Start button removal and show off the transparent Charms bar that offers similar functionality and access to search, share, start screen, devices, and settings.

We have seen the transparent Charms before but the new screenshots also demonstrate the various patterns for the Metro Start screen, Internet Explorer 10 automatic updates, and application grouping. All of these enhancements will make their way into the Consumer Preview build that Microsoft will deliver to the public later this month. The Windows Store is not fully activated in build 8220, but Microsoft has previously promised this will be live for beta participants in late February. We're expecting to see some high profile Metro style applications in the store at preview launch, with even more ready for the final release later this year.