Microsoft Corp. today said that it would expand testing of Windows 7 to the general public in early 2009.
As it told attendees at its Professional Developers Conference (PDC) in Los Angeles that they would receive an alpha edition of Windows 7 later today, Microsoft also said that it would issue a public beta of the Vista successor early next year.
The beta will be available to anyone for download, Microsoft said, according to several real-time blogs covering the event, including one at LiveSide.net where several noted Windows bloggers collaborated.
Interest in Windows 7 grew when Microsoft began talking up the new operating system in May during a one-day marketing blitz, and it intensified last month when the company announced that it would issue "pre-beta" copies of the in-development operating system to attendees at both PDC this month and at next week's Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC), also to be held in Los Angeles.
Microsoft has not spelled out pricing for Windows 7, revealed the number of separate editions of the operating system it will sell, or even announced a definitive ship date. Thus far, company executives have only targeted late 2009 or early 2010 for the release.