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UPDATE: Windows 7 Beta: Don't Panic Getting It

TechNet Plus and Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) subscribers have reportedly had problems getting product keys to download the new Windows 7 Beta (Build 7000), which has been available since Wednesday. Microsoft noted the problem in its blogs and told its subscribers that the product keys are coming.

"Customers with this issue can be instructed to download and install Windows 7 Beta without the product key and then check back later when this issue is resolved," the TechNet team advised on Thursday.

Testers have some time. There is a 30-day grace period to add the product key before you get expiration messages.

Microsoft has advised IT professionals testing Windows 7 for their organizations not to download the free beta that is being generally distributed on Friday, Jan. 9.

The free beta, distributed as a 2.5 GB or 3 GB ISO, must be burned to a CD and then installed. It is a special offer to enthusiasts and limited to the first 2.5 million downloaders during an unspecified time period on Jan. 9. Users must have Windows Vista Service Pack 1 already installed on their PCs to use the free Windows 7 Beta, which expires on Aug. 1, 2009. A clean install is possible.

The free beta is supposed to be available from Microsoft's Windows 7 page on Friday afternoon. As of 11:30 a.m. Pacific time, a download link was not available.

Update: By 2:30 p.m. Pacific time, Microsoft released info through its Windows blog that the free public beta is being postponed.

"Due to very heavy traffic we’re seeing as a result of interest in the Windows 7 Beta, we are adding some additional infrastructure support to the Microsoft.com properties before we post the public beta," wrote Brandon LeBlanc. He promised to post further notice on the blog.

Microsoft is offering a discount of 15 percent for new TechNet Plus subscribers using a discount code, according to this blog. TechNet Plus and MSDN subscribers also face an expiration date of Aug. 1, 2009 when trying out the new Windows 7 Beta.

For the Microsoft partner community, the Windows 7 Beta can be accessed by logging into the partner portal. It's available if they are TechNet Plus or MSDN subscribers. The portal, linked here, offers resources such as the Windows 7 Online Readiness Kit, which provides reference materials to get started with enterprise deployment presentations.

IT professionals experimenting with the Windows 7 Beta can test application compatibility using the Microsoft Application Compatibility Toolkit, which comes with the beta, according to Microsoft blogger Georgina M. A general resource describing Windows 7 is available on MSDN for developers.

For help with client management, blogger Georgina M mentions that Microsoft is planning a Windows TechCenter resource, which is expected by the end of this month. In the meantime, the TechNet Forum for Windows 7 is already available and can be accessed here.

Microsoft also offers an IT Pro Momentum program designed to help early adopters of various Microsoft technologies, as described here.

General resources for Windows 7 will be available to users via Microsoft's Springboard Series, which will include videos and walkthroughs. At the time of this writing, Microsoft's Springboard page lacked a tab for Windows 7. Currently, the page just points to some Windows 7 blogs.

The Channel 9 educational portal also includes an assortment of video talks about features in Windows 7, some of them dating back to Microsoft's Professional Developers Conference launch in October.

One Microsoft blogger who experimented with the Windows 7 Beta upgrade had some problems with a Virtual PC implementation. Kevin Remde, an IT pro evangelist with Microsoft, cautioned that the release is still in beta and lacks tools needed for remote administration.

"Do NOT upgrade to the Windows 7 Beta any machine that you're using for remote administration of domains or hyper-v," Remde warned. "Those tools won't be there, and to my knowledge they're not available yet."

The Windows 7 Microsoft TechNet Forum explains here that Virtual PC 2007 isn't officially supported with this beta release of Windows 7.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is online news editor, Enterprise Group, at 1105 Media Inc.

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