Rush for Windows 7 RC crashes MSDN, TechNet pages

Repeat of January download blunder keeps subscribers from new build

Although Microsoft Corp. today said it had delivered Windows 7 Release Candidate (RC) to subscribers of the company's developer and IT services, the download sites for those services were offline as of noon Eastern Time.

Microsoft Developers Network (MSDN) and TechNet subscribers were supposed to find the 32- and 64-bit editions of Windows 7 RC available for download today. But in a snafu reminiscent of the problems Microsoft had in January when it tried to launch Windows 7 Beta, the download pages for the release candidate were inaccessible to Computerworld, despite numerous attempts over an hour-long span.

Attempts to reach the MSDN download for Windows 7 RC, for instance, were greeted with the message "Sorry, we were unable to service your request," while the TechNet download page brought up the error "We're sorry! The page you were expecting to see has been removed or is unavailable."

Earlier this year, Microsoft had set Jan. 9 as the launch date for the public beta of Windows 7, but the rush by users overloaded the company's servers, causing it first to postpone the debut and then to restart it, this time successfully, the next day.

TechNet and MSDN subscribers were not happy.

"Man, this stinks," said a user identified as Lyle Pratt, on a TechNet message forum at 10 a.m. ET.

"I can't believe we can still bring MSDN to its knees!" said John Butler, a Microsoft partner. "Surely, they should be able to deal with this? Not a good advert for Microsoft."

Other messages quoted e-mails from TechNet's support services that suggested subscribers keep trying to reach the download page but did not offer any explanation for the problems people were reporting.

A Microsoft spokeswoman claimed that the download sites were live in an e-mail at noon, but additional checks showed that the pages remained offline.

Windows 7 RC is slated to be available for public download next Tuesday, May 5.

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