Microsoft releases Window 7 public beta

Microsoft has posted the Windows 7 beta to its TechNet site for IT professionals, but has not yet made the download available on the site set up for the general public.

Servers, however, have been overwhelmed by demand, and are returning errors or refusing to load pages.

Around 11:30 a.m. EST, Microsoft launched the beta on this page of "Springboard Series," a section of TechNet dedicated to enterprise administrators and other IT workers.

Repeated attempts by Computerworld to download both the 32- and 64-bit English versions of the beta were stymied, however, by "Server is too busy" error messages or half-loaded pages that simply stalled.

Yesterday, Microsoft said it would offer the Windows 7 public beta both at the Springboard Series page as well as on its better-known Windows site . As of 12:30 p.m. EST, there was no sign of the download on the latter.

Although Microsoft has said it would cap the number of Windows 7 beta activation keys at 2.5 million, it is not expected to drop the download from its site after that mark is reached. Users unable to obtain an activation key in the initial crush will still be able to download and install the beta, then run it under the operating system's 30-day trial. 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.

Hours before the beta was posted to TechNet, several Microsoft URLs were unreachable as eager users hunted for the download.

On the TechNet page that detailed what Microsoft called the "Windows 7 Beta Customer Preview Program," the company spelled out the requirements for the beta and set user expectations.

Among the latter, it noted that it will not provide technical support for the beta, or be liable for "business-related downtime" of systems running the preview. It also warned users that they will need to reinstall a production version of Windows on the machine when the beta expires on Aug. 1, 2009.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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