We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message
80,259 News Articles

Windows 7: the public beta explained

How and where to get your trial of the new OS

Gregg Keizer, Computerworld (US) | 09 January 09

Microsoft is making the public beta of its new operating system Windows 7 available today. Read on to find out how you can get it.

That's it? Nothing else?

Last thing, we swear. The Windows 7 beta is actually an upgrade, not a full new install. You need to have a machine running Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1) to install the beta. So if you're still running Windows XP - which a lot of people are, what with Vista's problems, real or imagined - you're up a creek sans the proverbial paddle.

Is Microsoft limiting the beta?

Yes it is. The company said it will close out the beta after 2.5 million downloads.

Really?

So if I'm late to the party, I'm out of luck? Not really. The 2.5 million number is how many activation keys Microsoft will hand out to beta testers, not the number of actual downloads. (Yes, Windows 7 retains product activation.)

Microsoft won't pull the download after the 2.5 million, it will just stop handing out keys.

Minus a key, you can still download and install the beta, then run it for 30 days before it quits on you. And by using the same 'slmgr -rearm' command that gained notoriety after Windows Vista's debut, you can extend that trial period to 120 days.

Several blogs have posted instructions on how to use this legal method to extend the lifespan of Windows 7 previews, including My Digital Life.

What edition of Windows 7 is the beta?

Microsoft said the beta is "roughly equivalent" to Vista Ultimate, which is a strong hint that the preview is actually Windows 7 Ultimate.

Microsoft's being cagey here because it refuses to say how many different editions of Windows 7 it will eventually sell, what they contain and how much they'll cost. Some have speculated, however, that unlike Windows Vista, which comes in five flavors - Home Basic, Home Premium, Business, Enterprise and Ultimate - Windows 7 will be sold in four versions: Home Premium, Professional, Enterprise and Ultimate.

Visit Business Advisor for the latest business IT news, reviews, tips and tricks - plus sign up for our unique and FREE business IT newsletter

NEXT PAGE: Potential bugs in Windows 7

  1. How and where to get your trial of the new OS
  2. Activation keys
  3. Potential bugs in Windows 7


IDG UK Sites

Sony Xperia Z3 Compact review: A better deal than the Z3 and most smartphones

IDG UK Sites

Why people aren't upgrading to iOS 8: new features are for power users, not the average Joe

IDG UK Sites

Framestore recreates ancient China for Mr Bean's martial arts misadventure

IDG UK Sites

iPad Air 2 review: Insanely fast and alarmingly thin. Speed tests, camera tests and more