Windows 7 Beta Available Today

windows 7 logo Starting today, anyone can download the Windows 7 beta (W7B) here. Microsoft’s promotional W7B  page is here. The definitive WB7 blog post (by Brandon LeBlanc) explaining how it all works is here. The W7B FAQ is here. Paul Thurrott’s W7B info is here.

[Jan 10, 2009 – 2:30 pm EST Update: Official Microsoft Servers are back up!  Get it here now! Microsoft has removed the 2.5 download cap. Anyone can download beta for two full weeks (ending Jan 24 until February 10, 2009).]

[Jan 10, 2009 – 1:34 pm EST Update: Get it now! Click here for instructions on how you can easily bypass the official download channels and get official Microsoft beta keys and links to the download. I just did this and got two keys – one for each of the 32 bit and for64 bit versions.]

[Jan 9, 2009 5:49pm EST Update: Warning: As you can see here, the Microsoft servers were slammed. Check back at the windows blog from time to time to be notified when download servers are back up.]

Warning: From this download instructions page:

The Beta will stop working on August 1, 2009. To continue using your PC, please be prepared to reinstall a prior version of Windows or a subsequent release of Windows 7 before the expiration date. You won’t be able to upgrade from the Beta to the final retail version of Windows 7.

You’ll know you are starting to get through when you get to this sign-up screen (click for larger view):

windows 7 beta test-drive download screen

You’ll be all set with the key and ready to download when you see this screen:

Windows 7 Beta Product Key Page 
The beta is limited to the first 2.5 million downloads will be available to all until January 24, 2009. Both 32 bit and 64 bit versions are available. You will need a Windows Live ID (such as a Hotmail, MSN, Xbox Live account etc.). The beta will only upgrade computers with Vista SP1 installed. You can, however do a clean install from an XP machine (wiping out the OS and starting from scratch).

[Update: Sunday January 11: I have installed it. There’s been a few hiccups. It’s certainly faster than Vista. I intend to write a complete post about my experiences soon].

The download is an iso file. You’ll have to burn an .iso to a DVD in order to install. You can burn it to a DVD with Roxio or Nero. If you don’t have those, the free ImgBurn software will do the  job.

Microsoft suggests you would be a candidate for the download if you meet the following criteria:

  • You are willing to participate as an active beta tester and provide feedback to help us complete Windows 7. 
  • You have an extra computer available to dedicate to testing beta software.
  • You can back up your PC, install and reinstall Windows, and reconfigure your home network connection.
  • You’re comfortable troubleshooting your own PC problems. There’s no technical support available for the Beta.
  • You understand how to burn an ISO file to a DVD using your computer’s DVD burner.
  • You have a system recovery disc and know how to use it.
  • You enjoy participating in an interactive community of beta testers, sharing experiences and feedback in real-time.

Tips: I recommend using IE over Firefox (always a good idea when accessing Microsoft services). I also suggest logging in to Windows Live before starting the process.

What’s New:

Se this page for what’s new in Windows 7 Beta.

MP3 Bug

This is the only bug I’ve heard about with Windows 7 Beta – which can corrupt MP3s. A patch has been released. Before playing MP3s on Windows Medial Player 12 on Windows 7 beta, apply the patch:

Download Update for Windows 7 Beta (KB961367) (x86)

Download Update for Windows 7 Beta (KB961367) (x64)

I applied the patch without incident. Microsoft says that the patch will become available via automatic update soon.