Microsoft’s Consumer Preview of its Windows 8 operating system has seen some 1 million downloads in its first day of availability. While not a surprising figure, given the massive popularity of Windows, the number underscores how critically important the upcoming piece of software is for the larger computing market.

People are paying it mind because it has the potential to change how the average person interacts with their computer.

That said, the one million download mark is in and of itself unimportant; it’s just a big round number, and one that Microsoft will likley treble in the coming week. What matters is consumer reaction to the build, as it is near feature complete, and far more polished than the previous Developer Preview.

Reception among the tech press has been largely positive towards the product, but one million downloads or not, if Windows 8 fails to capture the hearts and minds of the next 100 million people who buy a computer once it comes out, it will have failed drastically.

The next piece of data we expect to have that we can use to track Windows 8’s momentum will be developer uptake of the now (partially) launched Windows Store. Expect a story on that within the next week.