Just announced at Steve Ballmer’s keynote at CES in Las Vegas, Windows 7 Beta will be available to the public starting on Friday as a limited rollout:
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. – source: Windows Team Blog: Information on Downloading and Installing Windows 7 Beta
Although the keynote just finished and it’s not ready for recorded viewing, there are several other videos there that have some great demos of Windows 7, Windows Mobile and “The Future of Computing”.
Besides all the cool new UX features, there are a couple more things that are pretty cool about this release. First, it supports upgrading from Windows Vista SP1. That means no paving of my desktop to get to Windows 7. Second, VHD support is AMAZING. I can mount VHDs directly from the Drive Manage, and (more importantly) I can boot directly from a VHD. This is an AMAZING feature for developers – we no longer have have to rely on sharing memory with other running OSs via Virtual PC or Virtual Server! With this enhancement, I can boot “straight to the metal” using a VHD-based hard drive instead! That preserves my existing OS installation for my day job, but gives me the flexibility to run a new OS as if it were native.
Man – I’m stoked. The downloads are first come, first served, starting on Friday – so let the race begin!