As of today, I am running the Windows 7 Beta on several different PCs including my laptop, my work PC, and my PC at home, which I upgraded recently to Windows 7 from Windows Vista SP1. (I’ll be outlining the PCs I’m using to test Windows 7 shortly.) I’m all connected with HomeGroup, I’ve got several different Libraries set up, and I’m loving the new Windows Taskbar. I’ve got Windows Media Center recording my favorite TV shows and my Zune 80 syncing up with the Zune software. And things are even better with Windows Live Essentials installed. I find the Windows 7 Beta to be an amazing beta release and I am extremely excited for you to get your hands on it later this week! I’d like to take a moment to share some specifics regarding the Windows 7 Beta that I think are very important for people looking to give Windows 7 a spin.
On January 9th, the Windows 7 Beta will be available for Windows enthusiasts to download via the Windows 7 page on Windows.com. The Windows 7 Beta is going to be available download-only (we’re not sending out physical media) and available for a limited time to the first 2.5 million people who download the beta.
The Windows 7 Beta will be available in English, German, Japanese, Arabic, and Hindi, and each language will be available in 32-bit and 64-bit versions (except Hindi which will only be available in 32-bit). Because the Windows 7 Beta will be offered download-only, it will be provided to you as an ISO image (an .iso file) that you download. After downloading either the 32-bit or 64-bit ISO image of the Windows 7 Beta, you will be required to burn the ISO image to a DVD to install Windows 7. So you want to be sure you have a DVD burner before spending the time downloading the ISO image.
To burn the ISO image of the Windows 7 Beta to DVD, if your PC comes with Nero or Roxio products – you should be able to burn the ISO image to DVD. If you don’t already have DVD burning software on your PC, you can also check out ImgBurn which is free and can be downloaded here.
The Windows 7 Beta only supports Windows Vista SP1 to Windows 7 upgrades. So if you intend to do an upgrade – be sure it is on a PC running Windows Vista with Service Pack 1. We are not yet announcing anything regarding finalized upgrade paths for Windows 7.
The Windows 7 Beta will be only available in one edition, which is roughly equivalent the Ultimate edition of Windows Vista.
Also, another important thing to keep in mind is that the Windows 7 Beta will expire on August 1st, 2009.
I also need to emphasize that this is a beta of an unreleased operating system. Be sure to backup all your important data. As much as the Windows 7 Beta completely rocks, part of the beta process is discovering bugs and reporting those bugs. Some of those bugs could possibly lead to data loss. I tend to be a risk-taker myself and have gone all-out with the Windows 7 Beta by putting it on almost all my PCs both at work and at home, but not everyone should do this. I recommend using Windows Vista’s Backup and Restore features to ensure your information is backed up before trying out the Windows 7 Beta. Click here for several methods of backing up your data in Windows Vista.
The Windows 7 Beta is targeted toward the enthusiast crowd – people excited and knowledgeable with technology. If you don’t quite understand much of what I’ve written above, it is probably best you don’t try to install the Windows 7 Beta.
If you are an IT Professional, you can visit the Springboard Series for Windows 7 on TechNet (see the Windows 7 tab) on January 9th to sign up for the Windows 7 Beta but also can also get access to dynamic resources including video walkthroughs and the new Windows 7 forums.