So it's official. I like Windows 7 about as much as I dislike Vista (hint: a lot) - oh and you've now got more days to try it for yourself...
Speaking on the official Windows 7 Team Blog, Windows Communications Manager on the Windows Client Communications Team (snappy title) Brandon LeBlanc joyously proclaimed:
"Because enthusiasm continues to be so high for the Windows 7 Beta and we don't want anyone to miss out we will keep the Beta downloads open through February 10th. Customers who have started but not completed the download process will be able to do so through February 12th."
As for the closing process when it does arrive, LeBlanc said this will occur in three stages. Beginning 27 January a warning notice on the Beta 7 Beta download page will let customers know downloads will be limited shortly. On 10 February no new downloads of Windows 7 Beta will be available and on 12 February users will no longer be able to complete any downloads they started. That said product keys for the swanky platform will continue to be offered (should you plan to acquire it 'via other means').
MSDN and TechNet subscribers on the other hand will continue to have access to the Windows 7 Beta bits throughout the OS's beta phase and the cut-offs listed here do not apply.
Now this is the second time Microsoft has extended Windows 7 availability after originally taking the cap off its 2.5m downloads limit and I have to admit I can see why. After just three days my satisfaction with the Windows 7 beta saw it become my primary OS and I haven't had a single driver issue of BSOD now after more than two weeks. In fact my only issue was seeing Word 2007 lock occasionally and the root of the problem turned out to Norton's 360 trial edition of its Windows 7's compatible antivirus (both Kaspersky and AVG seem fine).
So in short if you haven't tried it yet (and aren't totally afraid of beta software) there really is no excuse. Trust me, a few days with the super-powered, OS X derivative (in a good and improved way) new task bar, zippy performance and numerous well thought out tweaks and the next time Vista crosses your mind you'll be convinced it was just a bad dream...
In fact, I think it has just stopped me from buying my first Mac.
In related (and less positive) news it is being reported by pcbeta.com that Microsoft hasn't learnt from some elements of its past as it is again planning confusing multiple versions of Windows 7. 'Starter', 'Home Basic', 'Home Premium', 'Business' and - yep, oh dear - 'Ultimate' versions are allegedly being offered to developers on a new Windows 7 Beta edition. Hmmmn, let's hope not.