Microsoft Offers Unlimited Windows 7 Downloads

The software maker has lifted restrictions on the number of copies available to beta users.
Microsoft has dropped limits on the number of copies of the Windows 7 beta it plans to make available to PC enthusiasts after a crush of download requests for the new operating system brought its servers to a halt over the weekend.

Windows 7 screen shot.
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"Due to an enormous surge in demand, the download experience was not ideal so we listened and took the necessary steps to ensure a good experience," Microsoft Windows communications manager Brandon LeBlanc wrote in a blog post Saturday.

"We have clearly heard that many of you want to check out the Windows 7 Beta and, as a result, we have decided to remove the initial 2.5 million limit on the public beta for the next two weeks," wrote LeBlanc, who said the limitless download period would extend through Jan. 24.

"During that time you will have access to the beta even if the download number exceeds 2.5 million," LeBlanc added.

Last week at CES 2009 in Las Vegas, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer raised expectations around Windows 7.

"We are on track to deliver the best version of Windows ever. We're putting in all the right ingredients -- simplicity, reliability and speed, and working hard to get it right, and to get it ready," said Ballmer. Compared with the widely maligned Vista, Windows 7 "should boot more quickly, have longer battery life, and fewer alerts," Ballmer said.

Ballmer also touted Windows 7's improved support for networking and multimedia content, as well as its touch-screen capabilities.

Microsoft needs Windows 7 to be a hit. Vista, the current version of Windows, has failed to catch on with mainstream computer users and businesses have shunned it outright. Many users have complained about Vista's hardware requirements, intrusive security measures, and lack of compatibility with older applications.

Dissatisfaction with Vista has allowed Apple to gain share against Microsoft in the computer operating system market in recent months. Windows' market share in November fell below 90% for the first time in years, while Mac OS is now flirting with the 10% mark, according to market watcher Net Applications.

Microsoft is hoping that Windows 7, which is expected to be released in its final form in late 2009 or early 2010, will stem the tide.