Get Windows 7 for free!
Free stuff from Microsoft? A free operating system?
Yep. You can get Windows 7 for free from Microsoft.
The next Microsoft operating system, Windows 7, is available for download. It's called a Release Candidate, or RC, and Microsoft wants you to try it for free for up to a year. The software can be downloaded from the Microsoft web site. Internet chatter indicates the software is relatively stable.
You're on your own to download it and install it; Microsoft isn't providing technical support at this time. Free of cost means free from support.
The Release Candidate expires in June of 2010; you have over a year to play with it. That's enough time to get hooked. Or more than enough time to get lose interest.
The download is in the form of an ISO file, which is a DVD image. You can burn it to a DVD and install from there. You might be able to use a program like MagicISO to mount the ISO file as a virtual drive and install from there. The installation instructions provided by Microsoft do not include the use of a virtual drive, but it's worth a try.
Before the download begins you will be issued a product key. Save a copy of the key because you'll need it during the installation.
Be sure to back up your files to a different computer before you start the installation. Assume that your target computer will be completely erased, regardless of what the installation screens might promise. Microsoft is not responsible for any hardware of software problems encountered during the installation process.
Why are they doing this? Well, Windows 7 is smart enough to report back to Microsoft when it has a problem. As you use it, you are generating useful data for the programmers who are putting the finishing touches on the product. If the program crashes or detects a piece of hardware that it can't deal with, Microsoft will receive a report about it. Your privacy will probably be safe, but just to be sure, don't store your tax returns on the same computer.
Microsoft has a long history of anointing end-users as beta testers. Back in the early 1990s they sold beta copies of Windows 95 to the public. Thousands of computer enthusiasts installed it on their home PCs long before the Rolling Stones began shilling for it. All the geeks wanted a copy. I think they charged about $20. I do remember that I resisted the urge to invest in it.
Do not download the file from any other web site. Be very wary of your source. This situation will shortly become a bonanza for spammers and hackers. Running any program that you download from the Internet can be risky. Take care.
Expect to see spam that appears to be from Microsoft. Don't click on any links or open any attachments unless you are absolutely sure of the sender.
- How to install the Windows 7 Release Candidate
Detailed installation instructions for the Windows 7 Release Candidate.