The beta version of Windows 7 can be downloaded today by MSDN and TechNet customers from your subscriber download page. If you aren’t already an MSDN subscriber check out how to buy.
On January 9th (US Time), the Windows 7 Beta will be available for Windows enthusiasts to download via the Windows 7 page. 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.
The Windows 7 Beta will be available in English, German, Japanese, Arabic, and Hindi, and each language will be available in 32-bit and 64-bit versions (except Hindi which will only be available in 32-bit). Because the Windows 7 Beta will be offered download-only, it will be provided to you as an ISO image (an .iso file) that you download. After downloading either the 32-bit or 64-bit ISO image of the Windows 7 Beta, you will be required to burn the ISO image to a DVD to install Windows 7. So you want to be sure you have a DVD burner before spending the time downloading the ISO image.
To burn the ISO image of the Windows 7 Beta to DVD, if your PC comes with Nero or Roxio products – you should be able to burn the ISO image to DVD. If you don’t already have DVD burning software on your PC, you can also check out ImgBurn which is free and can be downloaded here.
The Windows 7 Beta only supports Windows Vista SP1 to Windows 7 upgrades. So if you intend to do an upgrade – be sure it is on a PC running Windows Vista with Service Pack 1. We are not yet announcing anything regarding finalized upgrade paths for Windows 7.
The Windows 7 Beta will be only available in one edition, which is roughly equivalent the Ultimate edition of Windows Vista.
Also, another important thing to keep in mind is that the Windows 7 Beta will expire on August 1st, 2009.
I also need to emphasize that this is a beta of an unreleased operating system. Be sure to backup all your important data. As much as the Windows 7 Beta completely rocks, part of the beta process is discovering bugs and reporting those bugs. Some of those bugs could possibly lead to data loss. I tend to be a risk-taker myself and have gone all-out with the Windows 7 Beta by putting it on almost all my PCs both at work and at home, but not everyone should do this. I recommend using Windows Vista’s Backup and Restore features to ensure your information is backed up before trying out the Windows 7 Beta. Click here for several methods of backing up your data in Windows Vista.
The Windows 7 Beta is targeted toward the enthusiast crowd – people excited and knowledgeable with technology.