Download and Test Windows7

As anticipated, Microsoft used CES to launch the beta of Windows 7, posting the preview of the company’s next operating system to its developer download services.

Microsoft made it clear that the beta will be available for a “limited time,” and said it will cap the beta after the first 2.5 million downloads.

IT professionals and developers who subscribe to the Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) or TechNet services, however, get a jump on the public at large; they can grab the beta right away.

The beta, which Microsoft called “feature complete,” requires a PC with a 1GHz processor, 1GB of memory, 16GB of available hard disk space and support for DX9 graphics with 128MB of memory, according to Microsoft, which also warned that the recommendations could change for the final version. The beta only supports an upgrade from Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1).

Microsoft declined to get specific about upgrade paths for the final version of Windows 7, or to spell out how many editions it would produce and what it would charge for each. The beta is “roughly equivalent” to the Ultimate version of Vista , it added.

Both 32- and 64-bit versions of the beta will be available for downloading, but only English, German, Japanese, Arabic and Hindi editions will be posted Friday. Other language versions are expected at the product’s launch.

To install the beta, users must have a DVD drive able to burn disk images to a blank disc. The beta, said Microsoft in a follow-up blog it published Wednesday, will be available as an .iso file. It did not spell out the size of the download.

The beta expires on Aug. 1, 2009.

The Windows 7 download will be posted to Microsoft’s site on Friday, Jan. 9.