Windows 7 Beta Now Available

If you’ve been dying to get your hands on Windows 7, then Microsoft has a present for you. During his keynote at CES, Steve Ballmer announced the public availability of Windows 7 Beta 1. One message that Microsoft has been trying to make clear through Windows 7 is that the company is listening. After a less-than-pleasing acceptance and reaction to Vista, Microsoft has spent months talking to businesses and consumers about what they want to see in a new OS. Some of those features, such as touch-based tasks and a better use of resources, are incorporated into Windows 7. 

During his keynote, Ballmer told a crowd that a nearly final "beta" test version of Windows 7 will be available today (Friday) for PC users to download and test. Ballmer also assured users that Windows 7 will boot faster and drain laptop batteries more slowly. 

The Beta expires August 1, 2009. Of course, Microsoft has all sorts of caveats, so that they’re not liable if the beta destroys your computer. The first round of downloads is limited to 2.5 million users. We’re receiving reports of sluggish downloads and busy server errors, so you’ll have to be patient if you want to rock the Windows 7 goodness. (That, or get it from a torrent site…not that we’re encouraging that.) For a legitimate version of the beta, head on over to TechNet Plus subscribers can download the Windows 7 Beta software here.

Minimum hardware recommendations for running Windows 7 are as follows:

  • Processor: 1 GHz 32-bit or 64-bit processor
  • Memory:  1 GB of system memory
  • Hard drive: 16 GB of available disk space
  • Video card:  Support for DirectX 9 graphics with 128MB memory (in order to enable Aero theme)
  • Drive: DVD-R/W drive
  • Internet connection (to download the Beta and get updates)

Update: After struggling to keep up with demand, Microsoft has pulled the beta for now. From The Windows Blog:
"Due to very heavy traffic we’re seeing as a result of interest in the Windows 7 Beta, we are adding some additional infrastructure support to the properties before we post the public beta. We want to ensure customers have the best possible experience when downloading the beta, and I’ll be posting here again soon once the beta goes live. Stay tuned! We are excited that you are excited!"