Microsoft does a 180: Tech testers to get a copy of Windows 7 for free

After irritating more than a few of its technical beta testers by telling them they wouldn't get a free copy of the final version of Windows 7 for their testing trouble, Microsoft has done a 180-degree turn. Tech beta testers will get a free copy of Ultimate, after all.

After irritating more than a few of its technical beta testers by telling them they wouldn't get a free copy of the final version of Windows 7 for their testing trouble, Microsoft has done a 180-degree turn.

Microsoft will be providing its technical beta testers with a free copy of Windows 7 Ultimate, company officials acknowledged on July 30 in a posting on the Windows team blog.

From that posting:

"To show our appreciation, members of the invitation-only Windows 7 Technical Beta Program will be eligible for a free, final copy of Windows 7 Ultimate. For more information on how to take advantage of this, refer to Paul (Donnelly)’s post in the .Beta_Program newsgroup for details."

The free copies of Windows 7 Ultimate will go to technical beta testers only -- not every individual who participated in the public Windows 7 Beta and Release Candidate testing programs.

Last week, on the heels of informing testers that it wouldn't give them a free final copy, Microsoft had told testers it was going to close the beta forums quickly, over the course of a couple of days. Some testers speculated Microsoft was closing the forums because so many testers were expressing anger over not getting a free final copy of the product.

Nice to see Microsoft do the right thing here....

Update: Here's the fine print of the offer (shared with me by a tester who asked to remain anonymous):

Details:

All current members of our English technical and international mini-beta programs are eligible.

· We are offering you a full (non-upgrade) copy of Windows 7 Ultimate Edition for your own personal use, not to be resold.

· You will be able to get access to your copy one of two ways:

A) To get up and running quickly you will be able to download your copy and get your product key via Microsoft Connect. English downloads will be available August 6th and other languages will follow as they become available.

B) Members of our English beta program have an alternative. We have reserved a limited amount of boxed retail copies that you can choose to receive instead. These are 'first come, first served'. If you opt to have us ship you the boxed copy you should be aware that it will take much longer until you will be up and running on the final version. We will need time to manufacture and ship the copies to you. This means that you may not receive them until they are available on shelves October 22nd or later. Also, for people outside the United States you may be required to pay duties or other local taxes upon receipt.

Instructions and forms for choosing one of the above options will be available on Microsoft Connect on Monday August 3rd.

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