Ballmer Makes It Official: Windows 7 Beta Available

Microsoft last night officially released the first beta of its Windows 7 to MSDN and TechNet subscribers. The beta will be open to all testers tomorrow.

The release of the beta had been widely expected in recent days but CEO Steve Ballmer made it official Wednesday night in the opening keynote address at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Microsoft today also released the beta of what is expected to be known as Windows 7 Server. Windows 2008 Server R2 is available for download here.

In his CES keynote, Ballmer indicated that he wants a broad swath of users and developers to test Windows 7. "We are on track to deliver the best version of Windows ever, we are putting in all the right ingredients -- simplicity, reliability and speed and working hard to get it right and to get it ready," Ballmer said.

The beta had leaked onto the Web last week. Stephen Chapman, author of the Charlotte, N.C.-based UX Evangelist blog site, provided an in-depth look at Windows 7 Beta 1 Build 7000 to Redmond Developer News. Overall, the review found the latest build to be very stable.

Microsoft had first released a pre-beta of Windows 7 at its Professional Developers Conference in late October. A review by Sandro Villinger suggested that applications developed for Vista should migrate well to Windows 7.

Beyond the Beta
Ballmer also announced Windows Live Essentials, a collection of online applications currently available worldwide for PCs running Windows XP, Vista and the Windows 7 Beta. He also unveiled a partnership with Facebook, which allows users to connect Windows Live applications with their Facebook social networking pages.

"The updates you make on Facebook and the photos you share will automatically also be published to your Windows Live network, if you want things configured that way," he said.

Ballmer didn't talk about the Microsoft Zune mobile device, nor did he have any news regarding the company's Windows Mobile operating system, except to say that Windows Mobile "continues to evolve." A deal newly established with Verizon Wireless will enable search functions on phones using Windows Mobile, he said.

Currently, there are 11 different mobile phones offered by vendors that use the Windows Mobile platform. Microsoft's partners have sold more than 20 million Windows Mobile-based phones over the last 20 months, Ballmer said.

A recorded video of the keynote address can be accessed here.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is the executive editor of Redmond Developer News. Kurt Mackie is the online news editor for 1105 Media's Enterprise Computing Group.