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First Look video: Windows 7 beta

The beta of Windows 7 shows off Microsoft's most innovative operating system in years. Everything from the look to the guts has been overhauled. A completely revamped taskbar changes the way you'll interact with your programs for the better, and nobody will be complaining about the faster boot time, the faster program launch time, and the improved resource management.

In this First Look video, I'll give you a quick overview of what Windows 7 beta can do and how to use it. The only problem? Having to wait until summer for the official release.

Securing the Windows 7 beta

Despite the fact that security programs are often some of the toughest code to make work with a new operating system, Windows 7 already has several companies ready with products aimed at keeping it safe from attackers.

By comparison, only one antivirus firm--McAfee--had its security software commercially ready by the time Microsoft launched Vista for businesses in November 2006.

That said, it stands to reason, given that Microsoft was making far more dramatic changes to the operating system's underlying architecture in Vista than it is in Windows 7.

This time around, it is AVG, Kaspersky, and Symantec that … Read more

Windows 7 beta gets a mascot

Look closely at the desktop when you boot up Windows 7 for the first time. That's not just any fish you see on the desktop.

It's a specific type of Siamese fighting fish, also known as a betta fish. Get it?

Although pronounced like the Greek letter beta, the fish gets its name "from ikan bettah, taken from a local dialect of Thailand," according to Wikipedia.

For the record, I'm no fish expert, but as I was re-installing Windows 7 last night, my partner, AJ, turned to me and said, "Hey, it's a … Read more

Microsoft: Do give Vista a try

Following the beta release of Windows 7, Microsoft is sending the message to companies not to give Vista a miss, saying investments toward adopting the OS can be reused when Windows 7 is ready.

Speaking at a press demo session of Windows 7 beta, Richard Francis, general manager, Windows client BG lead, business and marketing organization, Asia-Pacific region at Microsoft, said companies are "encouraged" to upgrade to Windows Vista after predecessor XP, instead of waiting for Windows 7 to be released.

"Certainly, there will be some companies that will decide to skip Vista and wait for Windows … Read more

A tale of two Windows installs

This weekend, I loaded fresh copies of Windows onto two PCs.

Like many people, I downloaded the Windows 7 Beta and installed it. But that wasn't the only PC task I had over the weekend.

I had an old PC I used for my early Vista testing that my partner was complaining had begun to gather dust. So, I offered the machine to a friend of mine that had only a very old PC. I gave her the option of XP or Vista and she quickly proclaimed, "Oh, XP, definitely."

And, of course, therein lies Microsoft's … Read more

Works, but nothing special here

It falls squarely in the middle of the pack as far as password keepers go, but easy to learn pull-down menus, and simple program operation make the application one for less experienced users. Nothing truly special here, but no out and out flaws either.

Right off the bat, Scarabay proves to go only half way. The app allows users to drag and drop Web site, login, and password data onto your favorite browser. Unfortunately, users must perform the work with three steps. A front runner would open the page and fill in the data with one double-click. The application also … Read more

Microsoft lifts download limit for Windows 7 beta

Acknowledging that its release of Windows 7 public beta (download) "was not ideal," Microsoft said it will suspend the software's 2.5 million download limit for a couple of weeks.

Windows communications manager Brandon LeBlanc announced the move in a company blog Saturday:

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. We have clearly heard that many of you want to check out the Windows 7 Beta and, as a result, we have decided remove the initial 2.5 … Read more

Buzz Out Loud 889: Introducing the Palm Pepporoni

It's our last show from the CNET stage at CES 2009 in Las Vegas! We compare the battery charging solution for the Palm Pre to a smorgasbord of delicious food and end up hungry for pepperoni. Also, Microsoft fumbles the Windows 7 beta release and Google Chrome gets a Mac and Linux deadline. Listen now: Download today's podcast Episode 889

Best of CES Awards

Web site problems as Windows 7 beta hits

Apple … Read more

Windows 7 beta now available

This post was updated at 12:19 p.m. PST with more details.

Microsoft has apparently decided that it has enough server capacity and has made the code available for the Windows 7 beta.

I don't see a posting on the Windows 7 blog, but when I went to the Windows 7 page Saturday morning, I found the following message and was directed to this site to get the code.

"The Windows 7 Beta is now available for download," Microsoft said on its Web site. "Thanks for your interest and help with the beta."

The … Read more

Where's Windows 7 beta? Microsoft posts, then pulls the download

Microsoft has been in the software game long enough to know that when you're announcing a release as big as an operating system to millions of itchy-fingered techies, you release it when you say you will and you have the foresight to get your servers in a row.

Yet, the general release of the much-anticipated Windows 7 beta is overdue by hours, Microsoft having first posted the files late, and then pulled them when servers buckled under the traffic. What's left now is a sort-of apologetic, but mostly noncommittal notice that there's no estimated arrival time for … Read more