Microsoft has started the beta period for Windows 7, their next release of the Windows operating system. Hopefully, they will focus on speed and stability – both characteristics that seemed to be lacking in the DRM-laden Vista.
Apparently, I’m not the only person interested in trying the beta. Enough people tried to download it when it became available January 9th that Microsoft’s servers overloaded. They’ve added more capacity and you should be able to download it now. Originally, the public beta was going to be limited to 2.5 million downloads but after the server issue, they have decided to allow access to the download through January 24th even if the limit is exceeded. Be warned though, the beta is about 2.4GB so a broadband connection to the Internet is a must.
The beta is available in 32 bit and 64 bit versions. I chose the 32 bit version. Initially, I had trouble installing it as a guest OS in Parallels. Poking around on the Internet seemed to indicate you needed to start from Vista and upgrade. Doing a bit more reading on Microsoft’s web site showed you could install Windows 7 on a bare system (do the Custom install). I decided to download the beta software again but this time I didn’t burn the ISO to a DVD. I started the install and voila!
My setup is a MacBook Pro, 2.33 GHz Core 2 Duo, 3 GB RAM, Radeon 1600 chipset with 256 MB VRAM, runnning OS X 10.5.6 and Parallels 4.0.3810. I allocate 1 GB of RAM and 128 MB VRAM to Windows 7. So far, things seem to be working ok.
In addition to the OS itself, you get a copy of Internet Explorer 8 beta. Note that this IE8 is not the same as the IE8 beta you can download for WinXP or Vista. IE8’s rendering engine isn’t quite there yet. I noticed on some of the Microsoft web pages that bullets don’t render quite right: the bullet prints on one line, the text of the bullet on the line below.
Since you can’t run a Windows-based machine without virus protection, I went back to the Microsoft site to see who had an AV package for Windows 7. They have links to AVG, Kaspersky and Norton. Since I have a fair amount of angst about Norton bloat-ware, I chose the beta version of Kaspersky 8. A couple of reboots and we were up and running.
Next task is to download FireFox and maybe some of the Windows Live Essentials stuff.
Caveat emptor: This is beta software. Expect bugs. Don’t use it for production work. There is no direct support. Per the Microsoft web site: The Windows 7 Beta will stop working on August 1, 2009. To continue using your PC, please be prepared to reinstall a prior version of Windows or a subsequent release of Windows 7 before the expiration date. We recommend doing a custom (clean) installation.
Until then, have at it!