Many Microsoft watchers, developers and customers have been assuming that Microsoft was going to provide attendees of its late October Professional Developers Conference (PDC) – or at least its early November Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) — with early Windows 7 bits. But according to new information Microsoft is not planning to make Beta 1 of Windows 7 available until mid-December.
Windows 7 builds have been available to a small and select group of testers. Microsoft has released two M (”milestone”) designated Windows 7 builds (M1 and M2), plus various interim updates, to select customers and partners who have been sworn to secrecy. The Windows client team is in the midst of putting finishing touches on M3.
But Beta 1 is currently not in the cards for Microsoft. This code won't be released to testers until a week before Christmas according to the Microsoft’s Windows 7 schedule.
One suggestion is that there might there be some kind of pre-beta, something like a Community Technology Preview (CTP) build, that Microsoft will deliver to a broader set of private testers than those currently getting regular internal builds.The consensus seems to be not to expect Microsoft to distribute Windows 7 bits more widely until the Windows 7 is feature-complete or very nearly so.
On September 10, Microsoft acknowledged that it plans to use its Connect site to sign up potential Windows 7 testers at some point. From a posting to the Windows 7 Engineering blog by Christina Storm, a program manager on the Windows Customer Engineering feature team:
“When we release the Windows 7 beta we will also be collecting feedback from this (Windows Feedback) panel and asking for participation from a set of Windows 7 beta users. Our current plans call for signing up for the beta to happen in the standard Microsoft manner on http://connect.microsoft.com. Stay tuned!”
If Microsoft does release Beta 1 of Windows 7 in mid-December, that will mean the company is aiming to deliver the final Windows 7 product less than a year after the official beta begins.