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Microsoft removes Windows 7 download limit

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Redmond (WA) – Following an apparently huge number of Windows 7 beta download requests, Microsoft reposted the software Saturday morning and the site and downloads have been running smoothly since then. The company also said that it lifted the initial restriction of 2.5 million available downloads.

It took Microsoft about a day to add enough capacity to its website infrastructure to deal with the interest in the upcoming operating system. However, some of our readers have told us that the official download site was back available by about 10 am PST on Saturday.

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Microsoft updated its blog and confirmed the availability of the operating system, but did not provide any information on the traffic the website received or what improvements to the server network were necessary to get the 2.4 GB download back up. However, browser usage share data provided by Net Applications showed that IE8 beta 2, which is included in Windows 7 beta, jumped from 0.82% on Friday to 0.98% on Saturday and 1.01% on Sunday. The Sunday level is a new record for IE8, topping the previous record of 0.96% reported for Sunday, January 4.

Net Applications data previously indicated that 1% market share translates into roughly 10 million browsers, give or take a couple one hundred thousand. If IE8 market share suddenly jumped by 0.05%, it would lead us to believe that (successful) Windows 7 downloads have been in the neighborhood of at least 500,000 between Friday and Sunday, translating into a data volume of 1.2 PB. That is, of course, unconfirmed data and our rough estimate.

Microsoft itself remained mum on how many successful Windows 7 downloads were delivered, but stated that it has removed the initial limit of 2.5 million available downloads – for the next two weeks (until January 24).

Users interested in downloading Windows 7 should remember that, despite Steve Ballmer’s note that all users are invited to download and install the software, it is a beta that comes with all advantages and drawbacks of a pre-release application. You get an early look at an upcoming operating system, but will have to deal with possible bugs and largely unavailable support. Needless to say, Windows 7 should not be installed on a business critical system. Also, there is a “time bomb” on this software, as it will stop working on August 1, 2009. ZDNet recently suggested that this date suggests that the final version of Windows 7 may be released by then.

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