Based on all the queries I'm getting this morning, Microsoft might not have a problem getting the up-to 2.5 million public testers for the Windows 7 Beta release they are allowing. But the testers might find themselves having a heck of a time getting the bits, which are due out on Friday, January 9.
Update: Microsoft is telling testers to try back after noon PT today. Officials confirmed that the Windows site (www.microsoft.com/windows) has been down this morning but is up again now. They are saying not to expect the bits to be on this site until around noon PT, however.
Update No. 2: If you really can't wait one more hour (or two), try using the direct download trick that Neowin recommends in the first paragraph of its post. (If you just click on the direct links, Microsoft redirects you and you'll just get hung up again. You need to do the copy and paste step.)
Update No. 3: It's 12:10 p.m. PT. No Windows 7 Beta bits are available on the Microsoft-provided Windows link. No new word from the Softies.
Update No. 4: They are adding more servers before "turning them on." From a spokesman (at 12:20 PT): "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 Microsoft.com properties before we post the public Beta today. We want to ensure customers have the best possible experience when downloading the Beta, and will be in touch once the Beta goes live."
Update No. 5: It's after 5 p.m. ET. Still no bits.
The problem so far today has been how testers can get to the download site. Microsoft's Windows site (www.microsoft.com/windows) -- the main place for downloads of the Win 7 Beta -- has been down for me and others since early this morning. One person who managed to get through said there is a message on the site saying the Beta code will be live "this afternoon" (no indication as to when that means, ET, PT or what). Yesterday, I heard Microsoft's goal was to start allowing Windows 7 Beta downloads as of 6 a.m. PT on January 9....
Neowin and Ars Technica are both reporting that the public can get their hands on the public Windows 7 Beta via the TechNet link. But, as expected, that site seems to be down, too, due to too many folks hitting the servers.
While you're waiting, you might want to do a quick system check. Beta 1 will require a PC with a 1-GHz processor, 1GB of memory, 16GB of available hard disk space and support for DX9 graphics with 128MB of memory, according to Microsoft.
I've asked Microsoft for more information. Stay tuned if you're champing at the bit for the bits.