James O'Neill's Blog

January 9, 2009

Technet and betas

Filed under: Beta Products — jamesone111 @ 3:47 pm

Later today we will make Windows 7 beta available to anyone who wants it . “Anyone” is stretching the point, because there will only be a finite number of downloads/ product IDs available – 2.5 Million.  Some of my fellow evangelists saw red over this, one arguing that with an installed base of 700 million PCs providing only 1 copy per 300 PCs out in the world and we’d have 299 angry customers for every happy one. That’s a pretty extreme view and I hold an opposite – and perhaps extreme view.

As far as the number goes the official PR quote from the product group goes

we’re setting the download cap at 2.5 million – higher than the download limit set for any previous Windows Beta release. 2.5 million downloads should satisfy strong customer demand, while providing the breadth and depth of feedback we need to finish Windows 7.

I don’t think everyone should run beta software. In fact licenses for the software say it is for testing only and not for production use – although the best test for a client OS way is to copy what you would do in production – and the only to do it reliably is to use it as a production OS. I wouldn’t put my parents on beta software for example. Nor would I put anything business critical on it – in fact given the trouble of getting people to move to a newly released OS gives a pretty good idea of who won’t want a beta.

A Beta is there to prepare for the real product. If you want to get the skills to work with it or test the software you deploy (or develop) works with it or both. It’s not there for people who want to run something new and exciting to get a way to do it sooner – that’s a by-product. My argument is that anyone who is doing a job where they need to do that should have Technet – or if they’re developing software MSDN. If I fly on a plane – that’s a complex system and I expect the people who work on it to have access to all the documentation from Boeing, Airbus or whoever.  If I consult a lawyer I expect them to have a shelf full of books about their area of the law (another complex system). If you work, professionally, with Microsoft software you should have technet (or MSDN if you’re a developer). Any organization which doesn’t have technet probably doesn’t have the resource to put into doing a proper beta evaluation. 

Back when a few people complained that we closed the office 2007 beta after a huge number of downloads, I said that if you don’t have a subscription to get the software AND you can’t manage to be one of the first couple of million to download a beta then there probably isn’t a very convincing case for you to have it (but if you can make such a case , I’ll make it my business to get the beta for you). 

Incidentally if you’re thing that you should get a subscription to TechNet Plus you can get a discount of 20% if you enter the promotion code  TNCARE09 at the on-line order site.

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.


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