Windows 7 Beta Available for Public Download

Microsoft made the Windows 7 beta available for public download Saturday, lifting the limit on the number of users who initially are allowed to beta test the software, after its servers were overwhelmed by users trying to download the operating system.

On its Windows 7 site, Microsoft posted a note saying "The Windows 7 Beta is now available for download." The Windows 7 site lists a page where the beta can be downloaded.

On Friday, Microsoft struggled to keep its Web site online as users overloaded the company's servers. Microsoft's main Web site and the download page were often unreachable.

"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 Microsoft.com properties before we post the public beta," the company said on its official Windows blog Friday.

At the keynote for the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas Wednesday, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said Friday would be the date for beta rollout.

In a company blog late Saturday, Microsoft's Brandon LeBlanc announced that the company was lifting the limit on the number of users who would initially be allowed to download the beta.

"We have clearly heard that many of you want to check out the Windows 7 Beta and, as a result, we have decided remove the initial 2.5 million limit on the public beta for the next two weeks (thru January 24th)," LeBlanc wrote. "During that time you will have access to the beta even if the download number exceeds the 2.5 million unit limit."

The removal of the limit is not a dramatic one, since even after the limit was reached, other users were still allowed to beta test the product for at least 30 days.

Microsoft says the version of Windows 7 available now is "feature complete," which means that the functionality of the OS will not change much, if at all.

The new OS appears to be require less of a jump up in hardware capability than Vista did.

The minimum system requirements Microsoft suggests for beta testers include a 1GHz processor, 1GB of main memory, 16GB of available disk space, and support for DX9 graphics. The suggested setup is close to what is recommended for Vista, even though the new operating system is appearing several years after its predecessor.

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