Microsoft Offers Unlimited Windows 7 Downloads

Microsoft had originally intended to release Windows 7 Beta 1 to the public on Friday, but delayed the release until Saturday due to heavy traffic. To pacify frustrated users, Microsoft will now allow unlimited downloads of Windows 7 Beta 1 through Jan. 24, said Brandon LeBlanc, a communications manager on the Windows Client Communications Team, in a Saturday post to The Windows Blog.

"During that time you will have access to the beta even if the download number exceeds the 2.5-million unit limit," LeBlanc wrote.

User feedback in The Windows Blog comments section was largely positive. "Windows 7 is AMAZING! I've just finished installing a dual boot with Vista and I'm pretty certain I want to make this beta my main OS," wrote one poster.

"I cannot tell you how cool this OS is ... I was skeptical at first because it doesn't seem like there is much there, but trust me, there is," wrote another.

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Last week at the Consumer Electronics Show, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced the launch of Windows 7 Beta 1 and described Windows 7 as "the best version of Windows ever," with faster boot times, longer battery life and overall better reliability, all of which were problematic for some early Vista users.

One system builder told ChannelWeb he's been fielding a growing number of customer queries related to Windows 7.

"I actually think Vista has received way more criticism than was warranted, but it will certainly be great to have a new operating system to discuss with customers that doesn't have the baggage and the perceptions that Vista has," said Todd Swank, director of marketing at Burnsville, Minn.-based NorTech.

"Assuming Windows 7 has all the benefits of Vista, has all the new features being promised, and is as stable as XP, I think many, many customers will be ready to finally start transitioning to a new Microsoft operating system," added Swank.

Microsoft said it plans to release Windows in late 2009 or early 2010, but some Microsoft watchers believe it could come as early as the Summer or Fall, which would enable Microsoft to start selling Windows 7-based PCs in time for the 2009 holiday season.