Hi All,

After much anticipation, Microsoft has now made Windows 7 Beta available for evaluation and testing to IT professionals! For TechNet subscribers, you can download Windows 7 Beta here, alternatively all IT professionals can download the beta from here.


In fact, it will be useful to add the Springboard Series to your favorites as you’ll see a Windows 7 tab emerge January 9th that will offer helpful real-time content such as video walkthroughs, articles, podcasts, and deeper resources for evaluating Windows 7. You can access there the new Microsoft TechNet Windows 7 Beta Forums too and join the conversation!


The Beta is your chance to help us with feedback that targets the fundamentals—the “quality bar” that we are setting for Windows 7 on security, reliability and performance. If you are interested in getting even more involved, the Windows Feedback Program is your chance to directly influence future versions of the Windows operating system. This program is limited to the first 500 IT professionals to sign up, so don’t delay!


A major focus of Windows 7, from an IT professional perspective, has been to improve overall PC manageability, security, and end user and IT productivity—especially given the more mobile and distributed work environments that we see today. You will find key advancements that will impact you and your end users every day—such as accessing information and network resources across the enterprise; implementing security and compliance policies, and automating the management of physical and virtual PCs. For a more in-depth view of Windows 7 and how it will impact your day-to-day work, take a look at the feature articles on the Springboard Series, "First Look at Windows 7 for IT Professionals," and "Ten Things IT Professionals Should Know About Windows 7.” Or, for even more background on the fundamentals, visit the Engineering Windows 7 blog.
Many of you will be interested in what has changed since the M3 pre-beta build (available at the Professional Developer’s Conference in October), for those of you that had access, you’ve probably found that Windows 7 is remarkably stable and mature for the point in its development cycle. Most applications and drivers retain compatibility if you are coming from a Windows Vista environment, and you’ve probably even noticed some improvements to boot time and operating system performance.


The beta version of Windows 7 has matured from the M3 build, but the changes you’ll see are refinements and a few new capabilities. Most prominent are the new Taskbar and Jump Lists, that help you and your end users access commonly used resources more directly, Aero Peek to allow a quick look to the desktop to see gadgets or files, and refinements to the Action Center to help streamline troubleshooting by end users.


With this, we encourage you to download and install the OS, dive into the new elements and capabilities, and visit the Springboard Series for Windows 7 for topical resources and discussion!

Nick.