FAQ: How to get the Windows 7 beta

Microsoft this week is putting the new OS in everyone's hands

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On BitTorrent, the downloads are: 2.44GB for the 32-bit version, 3.15GB for the 64-bit version.

What languages are supported? Microsoft has limited the beta to English, German, Japanese, Arabic and Hindi, with the last available only in 32-bit.

When does the beta expire? Microsoft stayed with the Aug. 1, 2009, expiration date, which it had used in earlier previews of the new operating system, for the beta. On that date, the beta will stop working, according to the beta's end-user licensing agreement, which reads: "This software will stop running on August 1, 2009. You may not receive any other notice. You may not be able to access data used with the software when it stops running."

What's this I've heard about a bug in Windows 7? You've heard right. Microsoft has acknowledged a bug in Windows Media Player 12 -- the version bundled with Windows 7 -- that shaves two to three seconds from the beginning of MP3 audio files.

Here's the scoop from a Microsoft support forum: "When MP3 files are added (either manually or automatically) to either the Windows Media Player or the Windows Media Center library, or if the file metadata is edited with Windows Explorer, several seconds of audio data may be permanently removed from the start of the file. This issue occurs when files contain thumbnails or other metadata of significant size before importing or editing them."

Microsoft has produced a patch and posted that to TechNet and MSDN, the two destinations where the beta is currently available. Expect that it will do the same for the public beta tomorrow; it's also possible that the patch will be offered via Windows Update once you've installed the beta.

A support document -- designated as "KB961367" -- has been assigned to the bug, but it's not yet available on Microsoft's Web site.

Microsoft also recommended that users back up all MP3 files before installing the beta, and set all of them to "read-only" status by right-clicking each file in Windows Explorer, then clicking the General tab and selecting the "Read-only" box.

Right. Like you have time for that.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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