Windows 7: Beta 1 tracking for mid-December

Windows 7: Beta 1 tracking for mid-December

Summary: According to new information I've received from sources that have asked not to be named, Microsoft is not planning to make Beta 1 of Windows 7 available until mid-December.


Microsoft is on tap to talk publicly about and show off Windows 7 at two of its upcoming tech conferences this fall. But that does not mean the Windows team necessarily will be distributing bits at those shows.

Along with many other Microsoft watchers, developers and customers, I have been assuming Microsoft was going to provide attendees of its late October Professional Developers Conference (PDC) -- or at least its early November Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) -- with early Windows 7 bits. But according to new information I've received from sources that have asked not to be named, Microsoft is not planning to make Beta 1 of Windows 7 available until mid-December.

A small and select group of testers already have gotten their hands on Windows 7 builds. Microsoft has released two M ("milestone") designated Windows 7 builds (M1 and M2), plus various interim updates, to select customers and partners who have been sworn to secrecy. And the Windows client team is in the midst of putting finishing touches on M3, I hear.

But Beta 1? Currently it's not in the cards for Microsoft to release this code to testers until a week before Christmas, according to folks claiming to be privvy to Microsoft's Windows 7 schedule.

Might there be some kind of pre-beta -- something like a Community Technology Preview (CTP) build -- that Microsoft will deliver to a broader set of private testers than those currently getting regular internal builds? No customers or partners with whom I have chatted with seem to know for sure. But the consensus seems to be not to expect Microsoft to distribute Windows 7 bits more widely until the Windows 7 is  feature-complete or very nearly so.

On September 10, Microsoft acknowledged that it plans to use its Connect site to sign up potential Windows 7 testers at some point. From a posting to the Windows 7 Engineering blog by Christina Storm, a program manager on the Windows Customer Engineering feature team:

"When we release the Windows 7 beta we will also be collecting feedback from this (Windows Feedback) panel and asking for participation from a set of Windows 7 beta users.Our current plans call for signing up for the beta to happen in the standard Microsoft manner on Stay tuned!"

If Microsoft does release Beta 1 of Windows 7 in mid-December, that will mean the company is aiming to deliver the final Windows 7 product less than a year after the official beta begins. (As I've noted previously, Microsoft has said, publicly and privately,  that late 2009 is the target date for shipping Windows 7. The "you can't claim we're late" date remains the first part of 2010.)

Would a less-than-year-long beta (for what Microsoft is calling a "major" Windows release) be unprecedented? Not really. Short betas of products pretty much cast in stone aren't unusual from the Office team, from which current Windows engineering chief Steven Sinofsky hails.

What's your take? Is a less-than-year-long beta long enough for Windows 7? Is December 2008 early enough for you to start kicking the tires of a product expected to ship in the latter half of 2009?

Topics: Microsoft, Operating Systems, Software, Windows


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • This One Day After Microsoft Admits They Screwed Up With Vista

    Now what are you going to do about Windows 7? Same thing? Another blown launch? Two in a row is going to sink you hard.
    • so who got canned?

      With this level of cluster-f, wouldn't you think that there would have been some high-profile "departures"?
      I's surprised Ballmer didn't get the door shown to him.
      So is the whole BOD a bunch of sniveling twits? This level of imcompetency makes me wonder why there isn't a shareholder revolt or some kind of stink.
      What ever happened to accountability?
      • You clearly haven't been watching!

        Have you not noticed the stream of VP-level departures since Vista shipped, starting with Allchin (thank goodness) and ending with Kevin Johnson?
    • Not quite

      They admit they screwed up the launch.

      Still they hit on Office, SQL Server, Windows Server
      2008, .NET 3 & 3.5 and Visual Studio. Consequently,
      server room adoption is way up. If Windows 7 hits it,
      VISTA will be an interesting footnote. If it bombs
      well that's a problem.
    • huh?

      Sorry I don't get it?? At which point during that
      opinion piece does Microsoft "admit they screwed up
      with Vista"??
  • You Want Shine With That OS?

    I am fully prepared to be awed by amazing new features, wowed by slick new utilities and intrigued by mysterious code names. What's it called? Demo-ware! This is where Microsoft really shines. After all they are a marketing company with a huge department dedicated to developing software.

    I think there is a good chance Microsoft will make their release date for Windows 7. Vista's reception put the fear into them. They will not miss the release date if they have to hire half of India to help them finish. But what is it that they will release? They certainly cannot pull another Vista. People have their BS meters set to maximum sensitivity now. Microsoft is under pressure. Their new OS has to be more than shiny. It has to be mean and lean. These are qualities Microsoft has trouble with.

    The way I see it, the release of Windows 7 can't be anything but interesting. Very interesting.
    • It doesn't make any difference...

      ...whether it is good or not, the average person will
      be unable to get anything else with a new PC. Some of
      us, however, are more fortunate.
      • Some Of Us Know How To Install The Alternative

        Unfortunately Microsoft prefers to prey on the fears and ignorance of the average users by thinking Bill Gates clenching his butt cheeks for Jerry Seinfeld is going to push copies of Vista off the shelves.
        • Wow, thank you!

          Thank you for adding so much to this discussion. You have offered up impressive thought provoking dialog which will enrich all of us who wish to disucss the next consumer release of the Windows Operating System.

          Thank you!
          • Wow, You're A Genius!

            Thank you so much for posting a sarcastic remark that lends nothing to anything on this discussion, I appreciate that you need the assistance from a paperclip or an AOL employee named "Bob" that lives in New Dehli to learn how to get online.

            I appreciate that you've achieved the talent of posting on a message board and that your first post was a well-thought out and articulated post that only a third-grader could produce with tremendous effort.

          • You got'em lol (nt)

            <BGCOLOR="#E6E8FA" TEXT="#000000" LINK="#00009F" VLINK="#9F0000">

          • Oh yeah that told him off - sheesh - nt

          • A little bit bitter are we?

            I try not to feed the trolls but you've compelled me to make a small point.

            I make a sarcastic remark about the substance of your contribution to this discussion, or lack thereof, and in return you make a snide personal remake about who you think I am.

            However your bitterness, vitrol, narcissistic, pesimistic, world view can't be hidden behind your psuedo-intellectual drivel that you post on here for all to witness.

            I won't comment again to any of this. I'll simply be content in the fact that your self-loathing will be more damaging to you than anything I can post on this message board.

            Ahhhh... and look at that. You even have a little cheerleader rooting for you. How sweet :)
          • Summer Glau

            You forgot to sign your post, "Summer Glau."

          • Don't worry - that ja doesn't add to anything...

            except the collective loss. He's been called on the carpet more times than - well his mot---. The name is an open joke.
          • As Is Your Name


            Where is that from, some bad digital porn site?

            I've been called on the carpet and I've always defended myself, so piss off loser.

            You haven't even been here long enough to know who's who so sit your 300 pound 5 foot 5 wide load back in the chair before you get hurt.
          • LOL - well your consistent - thank you - nt

          • He must be reading Dvorak...

            Read his bit about how there was a bunch of hidden homosexual inuendo in that Seinfeld/Gates ad... stuff, if you ask me.

            Tho, to paraphrase Freud... Sometimes a churro is just a churro...

        • Chicken Little II - the sequel - nt

          • Care To Test That Theory Loserboy? - NT