Windows 7 beta availability extended

Microsoft has extended the general availability of the Windows 7 beta until Feb. 10.

Microsoft has extended the general availability of the Windows 7 beta until Feb. 10 due to the software's popularity, the company said.

Microsoft was scheduled to remove the beta from the Windows 7 download site this past Saturday, but is allowing people to download it for another few weeks, the company said in a blog post.

People have until Feb. 10 to start the download of the software, but downloads have until Feb. 12 to be completed, according to the post, attributed to Brandon LeBlanc, a Microsoft Windows communication manager. No one will be able to begin downloading the Windows 7 beta after Feb. 10, Microsoft said.

Microsoft made the first beta of Windows 7 available to the general public on Jan. 10, a day later than planned because interest in the beta crashed its Web site when the company first posted it the day before. So far, Windows 7, the follow-up to the disappointing Windows Vista OS that fixes many of problems users reported with Vista, has gotten positive reviews from early users.

Microsoft wants to give people plenty of time to prepare for the end of the beta's public evaluation period, according to LeBlanc's post. On Tuesday, the Windows 7 page will warn users that time is running out to download the software so they can prepare for the Feb. 10 deadline.

However, the new deadline does not apply to MSDN (Microsoft Developer Network) and TechNet subscribers, who will have access to the Windows 7 beta through its entire testing phase, according to LeBlanc.

Additionally, if a user has downloaded Windows 7 but does not have a product key for the software, Microsoft will continue to provide those to beta users indefinitely. A product key validates that a user's copy of the software is legitimate.

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