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Windows 7 Beta Downloads Extended Into February

Gordon Kelly


Windows 7 Beta Downloads Extended Into February

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.


Windows 7 Team Blog's Official Post


January 26, 2009, 5:37 am

Good news, could someone clear something up for me though...what happens in august when the beta expires? Will it simply not allow windows update anymore (like an un-activated version of windows), or will the whole partition simply refuse to boot up?


January 26, 2009, 7:01 am

@Richard - from what I understand you won't be locked out but a lot of fundamental features will be disabled. Of course the theory is Windows 7 will be available by then and whether this requires an upgrade or simply the purchase of a licence key patches, I don't know.

I'm sure if Windows 7 slips beyond August then the beta cut off will be extended (you can bet the time lock will have been cracked by then too!). I don't see why it should take 7 months+ though as it's more solid now than any Windows OS I can remember at launch. (Perhaps Windows 2000 gave it a run for its money)


January 26, 2009, 7:17 am

Here's hoping they will extend the end date of the beta from 1st August. My those will be a rough few months where I'll once again be forced to use Vista. I still dread having to boot up Vista every time I want to play a game, it just takes so damn long and is such a disappointment after having experienced the goodness of 7. I would take the time to transfer all my operations over to 7 but as I'm lazy and repeated reinstalls/uninstalls/reboots/customisations/driver setups are the stuff of nightmares for me. So for now it's just used for the usual web browsing and productivity stuff, not really stretching it to it's full potential. I'm also looking forward to DX11 and what that will bring, hopefully it will be a bit more of a step up than DX10 was, or what it was promised to be.

On a side note, I'm currently using Vista HP, and the 7 beta is Ultimate, but I don't see any difference in core functionality between the two versions. I usually just take whatever is thrust upon me so I don't really know what the differences are between the different retail versions, but I struggle to see why they need so many different ones or why people would pay so much more for them for that matter. I mean I can see that business users might need a more secure working environment, but that's about it. Can't they just have a Home user and Business user editions like so many other companies do, which would condense down their product line and make life far easier for customers (and themselves, I'm sure).


January 26, 2009, 7:23 am

Just thought I might add that "via other means" is already the best method of obtaining the beta. Although I got the 32-bit version when it was leaked, I tried (for 2 days!) to get the 64-bit version when their site was supposedly back up after it 'crashed', but to no avail.

I haven't been a part of a Windows beta before, so I'm not sure what their policy is on this, but I find it strange that they are willing to give away an unlimited amount of keys to each customer without so much as registering their details.

Tony Walker

January 26, 2009, 8:05 am

I've just returned to Vista (I'd be running a copy of XP if it allowed me to access a particular mirrored eSATA drive.

I have had quite a few (total-reset button required) lock-ups with Windows 7 accessing my NAS device (Netgear Readynas) and also when the PC tried to enter "suspend" mode.

I also didn't like not having the "Quicklaunch" bar. I'm used to clicking down there for a new browser window and the new Taskbar just brings that window to the front. You have to right-click and select the top item on the menu to open a new window. They've also buried some of the necessary "power user" settings under a further layer of unnecessary settings screens.

However, it is a beta and that is what I treated it as, leaving myself an easy route to return to Vista if necessary - tip: get yourself some drive imaging software - free from their website if you have a Seagate internal or external HD which is a version of Acronis's True Image software.

For perspective, I ran the 64 bit Vista beta for a while when that came out, I regularly play with installing Linux and also have a Mac Mini (G4 with Tiger) for e-mail and iTunes duties primarily.


January 26, 2009, 9:16 am

Waiting for a miracle. I can't see it coming. Same transparent "things" again. Apple isn't better. Maybe i'll stay with XP till death.


January 26, 2009, 9:42 am

@smc8788 - you have to register to GET the Windows 7 Beta licence key - there will just be no download link anymore ;)

@Tony - shame you had difficulties, but can't believe you missed the quick launch bar, the new taskbar makes it completely redundant in my opinion. Windows 7 isn't about how many Windows you need to keep open or shut anymore, it's about having them all open and them now being easily accessible at any time.

@stranded - best try Windows 7 before doubting, that's blind lack of faith ;)


January 26, 2009, 10:44 am

@ Gordon

Yeah, I just realised that you have to be signed into your Live account to get the key, but I don't remember doing that when I got mine :S

I'm also liking the new taskbar-come-dock. I've never got on with third party dock applications which mostly just try to rip off OS X, and I've always used double hight taskbars with about a million quicklaunch icons (gets rid of all those nasty desktop icons which clutter up my desktop and pretty wallpaper).


January 26, 2009, 8:56 pm


Can't remember how but you can actually reenable the quicklaunch bar. I'm sure a quick google will help you out, if you decide to try it again.

Tony Walker

January 26, 2009, 9:17 pm

@Gordon - as I explained, I liked it as I could get a fresh instance of the program I wanted (in my case a browser window) with just one click and not have to move windows out of the way on the desktop. The "7" taskbar requires you to right click and select off the menu for this.

There are probably other programs where you want to do this too like notepad - I have this on my quicklaunch bar at work as our daft incident management software won't take a direct cut and paste from the 3270 emulation software we run. I do need second and third instances of this opening at times.


January 26, 2009, 9:18 pm



You can, but I'm not telling you how as it completely misses the point of how the new taskbar works ;)


January 26, 2009, 9:22 pm

@Tony - right click on any of the new taskbar icons and left click on the programme icon and it will open a new instance of the programme in question.

Also, for the desktop just pin it to Windows Explorer and open it. It's far more convenient having a window of the desktop quickly accessible from the new toolbar than needing to constantly minimise and maximise windows all the time. That way you can also choose how it is displayed too: icons, detail, large thumbnails, etc.

Tony Walker

January 26, 2009, 11:07 pm

Thanks guys, I guessed you probably could resurrect it. Unfortunately the lock-ups preclude further experimentation at the moment.


January 26, 2009, 11:45 pm

@Tony - that's unlucky. Not had a single BSOD since install and only lock up as mentioned was Word 2007 because of a clash with trial version of NAV 360. For me it is the most stable Windows OS I've used!


January 27, 2009, 6:11 am

Been playing with Windows 7 and yeah, it's nice. But it is just an evolution of Vista and I struggle to see how anyone who hates Vista will like this. Don't get me wrong, I don't have an issue with Vista, it is no where near as bad as the press made out - and I don't think Windows 7 is the revolution that press are saying it is. Funny thing hype (good and bad!).

I agree with the comments above - the new task bar is nice, but not perfect. The lack of quick launch is annoying - totally agree with the point that you want a "single click, open new instance" button (e.g. for IE/Firefox). The new taskbar makes this a two click operation - annoying! Also, I hate the grouping of icons and whilst the new task bar is slicker, I would much prefer to have one icon per window - it's just quicker. I have a big monitor so real estate is not an issue. Hopefully they will fix this before it comes out of beta, but I am not holding my breath.

Stability, well I can say that Vista is 99.9999% stable for me - certainly as stable as XP, but that was excellent too. I use both on a daily basis (the latter 'cos I have to) Windows 7 beta is impressive as a beta, but as I say it's feels like Vista with a few tweaks to me.


January 27, 2009, 7:26 pm


Shift+Click a taskbar item: Opens a new instance of that

Win+Space: All windows become transparent so you can see through to the desktop

Win+Up arrow: Maximize the active window

Win+Down arrow: Minimize the window/Restore the window if it's maximized

Win+Left/Right arrows: Dock the window to each side of the monitor

Win+P: Adjust monitor setup

Win+(+/-): Zoom in/out

Tony Walker

January 29, 2009, 8:55 pm


...and if you've not got a "WIndows" key (see NC10 article comments).

/devils advocate ;-)

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