Microsoft's Web site overwhelmed by would-be Windows 7 downloaders

Vendor's site gets hammered by users, hours before it even plans to post public beta of OS

Microsoft Corp.'s Web site struggled to stay online early Friday as users eager to download the first public beta of Windows 7 began overloading the company's servers — to no avail, since the beta code isn't scheduled to be posted on the site until this afternoon.

Microsoft's main Web site and the anticipated download page for the Windows 7 beta were often unreachable this morning by Computerworld reporters and other users from multiple locations in the U.S. Browsers returned errors such as "Connection Interrupted" or "Internet Explorer cannot display the webpage," or they simply displayed a blank screen. At times, the Microsoft site would respond for some users, albeit very slowly.

According to Microsoft, the beta has yet to be posted. Yesterday, the company said it would offer the 2.5GB to 3.2GB download starting at 3 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. When Computerworld was able to reach the Web site, just before 11 a.m. EST today, there was no sign of the beta.

On Wednesday, when Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer set today as the date for the beta's rollout, a spokeswoman for the company noted that it would cap the number of activation keys for the code at 2.5 million.

But users who aren't able to obtain an activation key will still be able to download and install the beta, then run it on a 30-day trial basis. And by using the same "slmgr -rearm" command that gained notoriety after Windows Vista's debut, users can extend that trial period to a total of 120 days.

Another designated download site, the Springboard Series page, which is aimed at IT professionals via Microsoft's TechNet site, remained accessible throughout the morning.


Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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