Although the official release of Beta 1 of Windows 7 isn't expected until early January, a leaked copy of what looks like Beta 1's been making the rounds on the Internet for a few days. ZDNet's Ed Bott (a one-time colleague of mine back in the days of Windows Me) has spent some "quality time" with the build, and reports some interesting tidbits from the EULA:
The revision ID at the end of the EULA is: Win7_B.1_PRO_NRL_en-US - so it sure sounds like Beta 1 is on the loose.
There's no limit on the number of installs you can perform, but they stop working on August 1.
Redmond says you can't use Beta 1 in a production environment.
You can install Beta 1 in a virtual machine instead of a normal installation, but only one VM per hardware device.
Potential privacy concerns (such as Customer Experience Improvement Program and automatic error reporting) are turned on by default, but you can turn them off if you prefer.
Beta 1 must be activated.
Releasing benchmark test results to third parties without Microsoft's prior written agreement is not permitted.
If you've already fired up Beta 1, what surprises have you discovered? Hit Comment after the jump and tell us about it.
Windows Vista never did manage to win over an enthusiast following, leaving many eagerly awaiting the release of Windows 7. But while Microsoft's next OS is still a year (or less) from release, you can already get your paws on the beta 1 version (build 7000). Windows 7 beta 1 isn't supposed to make its way into the public sector for another couple of weeks, but leaked copies have already started appearing on BitTorrent, and initial reactions is that it's pretty good.
"This beta is of excellent quality," ZDNet wrote. "This is the kind of code that you could roll out and live with. Even the pre-betas were solid, but finally this beta feels like it’s “done.” This beta exceeds the quality of any other Microsoft OS beta that I’ve handled"
ZDNet noted "exceptional" performance while playing with the beta code, saying it feels faster and more responsive than is typical of beta builds. But what the site didn't find were any new features compared to earlier builds.
BlogsDNA lists several torrent links for the DVD ISO image, which should make installation a breeze for anyone wanting to chance pre-release software.
ZDNet's Hardware 2.0 maven, Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, rose to the challenge and has put Windows 7 build 6956 up against Vista SP1, Vista RTM (the original and worst), and Windows XP SP3 in three benchmarks: boot time, Passmark Performance Test 6.1, and Cinebench R10.
Not surprisingly, Windows Vista SP1 blew the doors off its RTM ancestor, but was similarly run off the road by Windows 7, which also made Windows XP SP3 eat its dust in virtually every test. The only test in which Windows XP SP3 held off its two-generation newer rival was in the OpenGL version of the Cinebench R10 benchmark. If this performance level continues until Windows 7 sees the light of day sometime next year, Windows 7 users will be very happy, and Windows XP diehards who have resisted "Mojave" will finally upgrade.
Join us after the jump for your chance to chime in on how you rate Windows 7 versus its predecessors.
If you want to downgrade a Dell PC in the Inspiron 1525 notebook or 530 desktop line with Windows Vista to Windows XP, it's going to cost more than the $20-50 premium we told you about last summer for other Dell models. How much more? The difference between systems in the Inspiron 1525 and 530 series with Windows Vista and those with Windows Vista Bonus with Windows XP is $150. That's a huge difference, but the reason why isn't really Dell's fault, TG Daily reports. It's all about which Vista versions permit downgrades - and how much they cost.
So, what's going on? These models are normally shipped with Vista Basic SP1 or Vista Home Premium SP1, neither of which include downgrade rights to Windows XP. So, to get Windows Vista Business or Ultimate, which do offer downgrade rights to Windows XP Professional (XP Home's not an option, alas), you must upgrade to Windows Vista Business or Ultimate, which accounts for the extra cost.
For your chance to sound off on the cost and availability of XP downgrades, join us after the jump.
CNet's Ina Fried reports that Microsoft's Windows Vista Ultimate Product (RED), a special version of Windows Vista Ultimate Edition, previously available only bundled with certain Dell PC models, will be available at retail starting later this month. Part of the proceeds from Microsoft's Product (RED) go to help the Product (RED) charity fight AIDS in Africa.
Microsoft's Product (RED) edition of Windows Vista Ultimate features, of course, a special Product (RED) package, and is also outfitted with an exclusive DreamScene animated wallpaper, as well as an exclusive screensaver, wallpapers and gadgets.
Not in the market for the Product (RED) edition of Windows Vista Ultimate right now? To find out other ways you can shop and help the fight, join us after the jump.
Microsoft appears to be well on its way to releasing Windows 7 Beta 1, and may have it available by the middle of January. To get your hands on a copy, you'll need to attend one of Microsoft's upcoming MSDN Developer Conferences, with copies ready perhaps in time for the January 13 events in Chicago or Minneapolis. Word around the web is that attendees will either receive a Windows 7 Beta DVD at the event, or if the Beta isn't ready in time, Microsoft will send a copy in the mail as soon as they become available.
Earlier this year, Microsoft gave out alpha editions of Windows 7 to those who attended PDC. At the time, Microsoft said it would release a beta version in early 2009, though it still has not committed to a specific date. Attending an MSDN Developer Conference ensures you'll be one of the first to get a copy, and it's not too terribly priced at $99, assuming you're not planning to go solely for the DVD.
Attendees will also have a chance to win several prizes, including a Mindstorm NXT robot with a copy of Professional Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio, a Mobility Pack consisting of a LifeCam NX-6000 and Wireless Notebook Laser Mouse 6000, and a Gamer Pack containing some Xbox 360 swag.
Configuring your next BMW isn't as easy as touching a table yet, but in the near future, it probably will be. BMW has released a video of its prototype BMW Product Navigator (aka BMW Konfigurator), which is powered by Microsoft Surface and designed by Vectorform, which created the interactive 2008 election map used by MSNBC.
As with the 2008 MSNBC project, Vectorform's BMW Product Navigator uses Microsoft Surface to manipulate video that is then shown on an HDTV. With the BMW Product Navigator, you place chips representing product options on the Microsoft Surface tabletop computer, and the changes you make affect the BMW shown on the video screen. And, just so you can make sure you're buying the Bimmer you want, Product Navigator can email you your custom configuration, print it, or copy it to a USB flash memory drive.
What do you think about the idea of gesturing your way to the car of your dreams? Is this the best way to use Microsoft Surface? For your chance to answer these and other burning questions, join us after the jump.
The Malaysian website Tech ARP, which previously figured out the release schedule for Windows Vista SP1 and Windows XP SP3, has looked into its crystal ball again and predicts Vista SP2 will be released to manufacturing in April 2009. First, though, a release candidate (RC) will be released in February.
So, what will be the big attractions in Vista SP2?
Windows Search 4.0
Bluetooth 2.1 Feature Pack
Native Blu-Ray recording
Windows Connect Now support for easier Wi-Fi connections
UTC timestamp support in the exFAT file system to enable correct file synchronization across timezones
Keep in mind that Vista SP2 will only install on systems running Vista SP1.
Some users wonder if Vista SP2 is coming too quickly after the release of Vista SP1. To find out how the release schedule for Vista SP2 compares to other service pack releases for past Windows versions, and for your chance to comment, join us after the break.
While the battle between Windows and Linux wages on, a similar struggle is set to take place in the cloud. Instant-on computing has been gaining ground, helped in large part by Asus pushing a custom version of SplashTop on select motherboards and Eee PCs, and now Good OS steps into the browser-based OS fray.
If the name looks familiar, it's because the company's gOS Linux debuted in Wal-Mart's ill-fated $199 Everex gPC. But this time around, Good OS is focusing entirely on the cloud with an instant-on derivative appropriately called Cloud. The company showed off its browser-based OS running on Gigabyte touch-screen netbooks at the Netbook World Summit in Paris today.
"We are excited to preview the Gigabyte Touch-Screen Netbook with Cloud and Windows together," said a Good OS spokesperson. "With Cloud, Gigabyte Netbooks will power on to the Internet in seconds, while still supporting killer applications together with Windows XP."
Instead of loading a typical desktop, Cloud runs entirely in a browser that looks nearly identical to Google's Chrome. At the bottom of the browser, an integrated dock gives quick access to several apps and Web 2.0 portals. But like SplashTop, Cloud isn't meant to replace the main OS, and instead run alongside it.
Good OS plans to make more details available at CES in January, 2009.