Microsoft will make the first public beta of Windows 7, the next version of its desktop operating system, available as a free download on Friday. There are several limitations, however, so even if you’re excited and committed to trying out Windows 7 Beta 1 on your home PC, check out this list of rules, requirements and considerations.
We culled this list from a post on the official Windows blog and its comments, so check it out before taking the plunge:
- Windows 7 Beta 1 will be made available for a limited time during the day on January 9, 2009.
- Visit the Windows 7 page on Microsoft’s website for the link.
- It will only be made available to the first 2.5 million people to download the code. Demand will be huge, so prepare to act quickly.
- Microsoft has not announced a specific time on Friday for the release, but we can expect it will be later in the day so the west coast of North America isn’t left out.
- Windows 7 Beta 1 will be offered as an ISO image. It’s around 2.5 or 3 gigabytes, so you will need a DVD burner if you want to install it.
- You will be required to register before downloading so Microsoft can give you a product key.
- It will be build 7000.
- The beta will only support Windows Vista SP1 to Windows 7 upgrades. If you’re not running Vista SP1 right now, upgrade before you try to install the Windows 7 beta.
- There is also a clean install option for the Win7 beta.
- There is no upgrade path from XP.
- There’s only one version of the beta, which Microsoft says “is roughly equivalent the Ultimate edition of Windows Vista.”
- The Windows 7 Beta will expire on August 1. You will probably be forced to go back to using Vista SP1 on August 1 (or maybe upgrade to Win7 Beta 2?).
- English, German, Japanese, Arabic, and Hindi versions will be available Friday.
- Both 32-bit and 64-bit versions will be available (except for Hindi, which only gets a 32-bit version).
- If you’re upgrading, remember to back up your PC. It’s a beta, stupid!
If you miss out, there will be other ways to get the beta in the near future. It’s likely Microsoft will be handing out hard DVDs of the code at developer events and consumer conferences throughout the year. And of course, (cough) there’s always BitTorrent.
Okay, never mind that I’m a dinosaur with an affinity for 1990’s era User Interfaces – I think even my best critics will very likely agree with me that Windows 7, for all of its performance improvements and bling, is essentially one big service deluxe pack for Windows Vista. It’s the Windows Vista that customers were promised when they bought “Vista Capable” PC’s 3 years ago, and despite the rest of us dinosaurs that are set in our ways about the way we like to work, it’s the Windows Vista that even Micosoft’s most ardent supporters hoped that would finally replace Windows XP. Windows 7 is the Vista that we were guaranteed would work properly, the first time around.
Taking a page from the 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers, Windows 7 and it’s accompanying sales propaganda is the Microsoft corporate mantra equivalent of “Wait ’till next year” that everyone is hoping may actually result in that all-elusive pennant win — the end-user and corporate acceptance that Windows Vista was never able to achieve.
Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.
Let’s face it, Windows 7 is Windows Vista Service Release 2, more than a service pack but less than a major release, with only a few added extra features, or as I am now in the custom of calling it, Windows Fixta. And since Windows 7 is essentially a performance and usability fix for a defective product, I’m of the increasing opinion that a Windows 7 upgrade should be free to anyone who was conned into buying Windows Vista.
Yes, you heard me. If you own a copy of Windows Vista — Microsoft should be giving you a download entitlement to whatever corresponding version you have. So if you have Home, you should get Windows 7 Home. If you have Ultimate, you should get Windows 7 Ultimate. For Microsoft to do anything less would be a disservice to their loyal customers, especially to the enterprises that actually bought into Enterprise Agreements for Vista desktops. It isn’t just good business for Microsoft to redeem itself in this way, it’s simply the right thing to do. Anything less than a complete “Mea culpa, we’ll do anything to make this up to you” move by Microsoft is likely to open them up to further litigation, especially by angry EU lawmakers who are just looking for another excuse to hit the company with billions more in fines as well as an expansion of existing class action in the United States.
As reported by Mary Jo Foley today, selected PC OEMs will begin offering free upgrades from Vista this summer, but these upgrades will not be retroactive. Microsoft needs to address their loyal customers and early adopters with free certificates NOW.
Should Vista users get Fixta For Free? Talk Back and Let Me Know.
This is definitely not what Microsoft had in mind when it launched its recent $300mm ad campaign. In what can only be described as a coup for distributors, Microsoft has given in to the pressure and extended XP’s stay of execution. Redmond has indeed confirmed that January 31, 2009 is no longer the end of the road for XP PC sales. Instead, January 31 is now the final date on which distributors can place orders for Windows XP OEM licenses and orders can be filled through May 30 of next year. For you, the end user, this means that Vista will not be your only Windows OS option for new PC purchases in the coming year as XP-powered PCs will be available for many months to come. This is no doubt viewed as a major check in the loss column within Microsoft – the company has been pushing Vista in full force lately in the hopes that it might reverse the negative connotations carried forth by Apple’s marketing and the bad tastes left behind from a bumpy launch. On the bright side of things, Microsoft can likely look forward to some massive XP license orders in early Q1 2009 that will help get its calendar year off to a flying start. Sure this likely isn’t Microsoft’s optimal situation but hey, in this day and age beggars can’t be choosers.
Microsoft has long offered desktop tools to help you check compatibility of existing software programs and hardware devices with Windows Vista.
For instance, you could run the Upgrade Advisor on an XP computer to know if that old machine can afford to run Vista. The problem is that you can check Vista compatibility of only installed software or hardware that’s already attached to the computer.
How do you know if that printer & scanner lying in the basement would work with Vista. Or will that old copy of Photoshop install successfully on your new Windows Vista computer?
Rather than hunting for this information on web forums and manufacturer websites, check the all-new Compatibility Center – a central database of hardware devices & software programs along with their current Vista compatibility status.
You could check compatibility of mobile phones and digital cameras with Windows Vista. Some screenshots.
In case a product is not compatible with Windows Vista (like Photoshop 7), there’s a link to the developer’s website (in this case, Adobe) for getting further information. Overall, a pretty useful tool.
How Reliable is Windows Vista on your PC
ANALYSIS Certainly Microsoft wants to avoid another debacle on the scale of Windows Me, an operating system release that tilted more toward a mistake than an upgrade, and whose publicity turned into pushback from both customers and the press.
However, two analysts from Gartner certainly didn’t help Vista much with their comments earlier this week. At an Emerging Trends conference in Las Vegas, Michael Silver and Neil MacDonald argued that Microsoft is collapsing under its own weight, and that Windows has become monolithic.
Central to their point was the fact that Microsoft is leery to cut the cord, so to speak, on more than two decades of applications. Backwards compatibility remains something of an expectation with each new Windows release.
At the same time, this support for the past has gotten them into trouble. “Security should have been enough of a reason for Microsoft to stop bringing these applications forward,” Directions on Microsoft analyst Michael Cherry told BetaNews.
As MacDonald and Silver argued, the ballooning hardware requirements attached to Microsoft’s recent releases — especially Vista — have some of its clients wondering if it’s just more worthwhile to stick with their current setups and wait for the next version of Windows.
“I found [their analysis] very interesting,” Cherry said of the Gartner pair. “Look at all the hardware requirements [Microsoft] has gotten into.”
The reasoning behind the leeriness over Vista in the enterprise is this: Evidence suggests that Windows 7 would be more modular, and as a result, a lot less hardware requirement-heavy.
Many groups — Gartner included — have now seemingly begun to advise clients that a Vista could be more than just a software upgrade: It could mean these folks could be buying new hardware too.
While this is certainly something the computer manufacturers would not mind at all, it’s a sticking point for corporations. Faced with buying new machines, they would much rather just stick with XP, which for many is working out just fine.
Thus, in the case of Gartner — which, by the way, had been urging its clients to upgrade as soon as possible after Vista launched in 2007 — movement to Vista is now only being suggested as old and dying computers are being phased out. Only then, the firm believes, should Vista be introduced.
Could this movement of both sentiment and support away from Vista be the catalyst for recent suggestions that Windows 7 should launch sooner than the oft-publicized early 2010 target date?
It could be the most logical reason suggested thus far. Microsoft’s customers appear ready to pass over Vista, and the company could be taking notice. If it cannot get its customers to bite on the latest Windows release, maybe it can on the next.
Blogger and Microsoft pundit Mary Jo Foley has suggested that the renewed Windows 7 speculation may be more due to a desire by computer manufacturers to have new software, and the new marketing support that comes with it, ready for the generally lucrative holiday shopping season. But a still more higher-level reason could be at work.
Cherry disagrees with the whole premise of “promising” releases by a certain date, saying it only leads to trouble. “Microsoft shouldn’t be promising when it will be done,” he told BetaNews. Such promises have already gotten the company into trouble with Vista at the very beginning, he said, as it was more than two years past its initial promised date.
Plus, he said, since Vista was billed as a major release, Microsoft shouldn’t be following it up with another major release so soon. “A major/minor release pattern is good,” he added.
Gartner seems to be suggesting such a resolution to Microsoft’s conundrum. It calls for radical change, something consultant Stowe Boyd of /Message seems to agree with. Boyd doesn’t hold much hope for it, however.
“I just doubt that Microsoft has the resolve to build a new OS, breaking the tie to Windows, which is really what is needed,” Boyd told us. “In the meantime, anticipate an increasing defection to Mac OS X and Linux.”
The question still remains, is Vista really collapsing? Perhaps not. It could be argued that Microsoft has just failed to develop the OS’ value proposition enough. With the early problems, such as a definitive lack of supporting drivers and its technical difficulties early on — not to mention the whole “Vista Capable” debacle — that job has been made much harder.
Some will argue that the security enhancements included within Vista are reason enough to make the jump. Several have argued that these enhancements resolve one of the key problems within Windows overall in recent memory: its seemingly neverending list of security problems.
In fact, Cherry told BetaNews that when he first started urging his clients to upgrade, User Account Control (although annoying at times) was a major factor. Not allowing everything to run under administrative privileges closes a great deal of those holes.
He still stands by his support, even though like Gartner, he is also now advising a hardware upgrade path to Vista adoption.
But some of these much needed changes have come at a cost. While the marketing of Vista calls it “agile,” most likely many don’t perceive it as such when a UAC dialog seems to appear on their screen every few minutes.
It is with Windows’ treatment of the “standard user” with UAC that Microsoft may need to improve most for Windows 7. Take out these perceived shortcomings, and things could get back on track.
“I don’t envision Windows 7 is going to be drastic,” Cherry said. “Although the first clue as to whether it will be a major release is PDC.”
Cherry’s referring to the company’s next Professional Developer’s Conference, currently scheduled for late October. Quite possibly at that point we will find out what Redmond’s next steps will be, and whether Vista is indeed the lame duck that some have made it out to be.
The Windows Vista installation DVD includes more than just the files you need to install an operating system. There’s also a recovery center which helps you deal with operating system problems. It can search for problems, find system restore points, restore from backups, or fix a broken boot manager. The problem is that many, (if not most) home computer users don’t have a real installation disc. What they have is a system restore disc provided by their computer manufacturer.
A few months ago we discovered that you could create your own standalone system recovery disc using tools included in Windows Vista SP1. But if you haven’t downloaded the beta version of SP1, or if something has gone horribly wrong and your computer is in an unbootable state, you might need to look elsewhere.
Fortunately the folks at NeoSmart have put together a downloadable recovery disc image. The ISO is about 120MB, and you’ll have to burn it to a disc before you can use it. So you’ll need a working computer of some sort to play. If you’re running Vista and you don’t already have an install disc or a recovery disc, we’d highly recommend creating one now. The recovery center is really one of the most useful new features included in Windows Vista.
C’mon — hop in this nifty time machine here and float with us back to December of 2006. That month, friends, is when Palm initially stated that it was cooking up a Vista-savvy iteration of its Desktop synchronization software, and yet, here we are some 13 months later wondering what took so long. Nevertheless, a finalized version of Desktop 6.2 for Vista has finally been loosed (half a year after the beta was revealed, mind you), and even though it does play nice with 32-bit editions of Basic, Home Premium, Business and Ultimate, 64-bit Vista / XP users are still left out in the cold. For Palm (and Vista) users out there willing to forgive the tardiness, go on and hit up the read link to get the 65.2MB file headed over.
Just as Microsoft did last month with Vista SP1 release candidate, the latest build (dubbed SP1 RC Refresh) has been loosed from its privately held shackles and is now available for the public to descend upon. According to ZDNet, Redmond decided to make this iteration publicly available “in the interest of gaining additional tester feedback.” Of note, you will likely be forced to install “two or three updates” before SP1 RC Refresh can be installed, but we know you’re quite unconcerned with all the fine print. Nevertheless, that verbiage (and the download link) is waiting below.
Last night Yahoo launched a new beta, its WPF powered IM client – Yahoo Messenger for Vista. A demo was shown at CES in January 2007, however performance was noted to be poor and as a result there has been a 12 month delay in getting the first beta out. When you also consider that certain features such as voice and video chats have been removed from the publicly available build, it suggest just how troublesome the new client has been to develop.
So how does Yahoo Messenger for Vista compare to existing Yahoo and Windows Live products? Brandon and Long have both express their thoughts, with the consensus seeming to be that poor performance has resulted in a feature-basic client being presented at this time.
- The user interface looks great and is fun to use. For me it was the small things such as changing colour.
- Tabbed chatting. I’m sure there must have been a good reason why this hasn’t been integrated in Windows Live Messenger yet, unfortunately that reason escapes me for the moment. There have been design ideas around how to implement tabbed chatting in MSN Messenger/Windows Live Messenger up in the hallways of RedWest for a while now, I wonder when somebody will actually do something with them…
- File transfers upto 2GB. Oh sure we have Shared Folders in Windows Live, but who actually uses those?
- An official sidebar gadget. I really don’t know what to say for this one, Microsoft has seemingly abandoned sidebar gadgets to 3rd party developers for the last 12months and here comes Yahoo to ship a gadget at the same time as the beta application itself. Go Yahoo!
- The complete install took absolutely no time at all. Its just a shame that performance from this point onwards isn’t so good.
- Performance – not great, especially given the 12month gap in getting this from CES to now. Looks like they might need another 6 months or so until release in order to refine it, which although not a bad thing, could mean they drop some more advanced features from the final release.
No 64 bit support. Brandon touched upon this, and like him, I’m a recent convert to 64bit. This is definitely an area where Microsoft is improving its own support quite rapidly, hopefully this will filter out to those building on Microsoft technologies.See update below
Althought not perfect, Yahoo have just pushed my expectations up considerably higher with this beta release. You can try it out for yourself here.
Update: Yahoo just released an official version with x64 support. That is a speedy response to user feedback, impressive. WL Messenger team take note please.
As 2007 rolls to a close, Microsoft isn’t letting up on its efforts to push Windows Vista.
“As we approach the one year anniversary of launching Windows Vista we want to remember you as one of the many people who downloaded and tested one of the Windows Vista Beta or Release Candidates through TechNet or MSDN. YOU were a significant contributor to the development of Windows Vista. Your participation was extremely valuable to Microsoft, and we would like to say, ‘Thank You!’” according to an e-mail message I received about the promotion at the end of December.
Under terms of “The Ultimate Offer,” testers can go to any retail or online store and buy a copy of Vista Ultimate (full or upgrade version) for full price and Microsoft will match it with a second complimentary Vista Ultimate Upgrade product key.
To participate in the promotion, invited testers should go to the Vista Tester Offers site. The promotion ends January 15, 2008.
According to the most recently released numbers from Microsoft, the company sold 88 million copies of Vista at retail (to the channel, not necessarily to end users), plus another 42 million licensees through its volume license programs since Vista went on sale. Microsoft officials said at the Vista launch they expected the uptake of Vista to be twice the rate of Windows XP — a rate the company didn’t realize (although how short it fell is up for debate).