Microsoft makes a u-turn, Windows 7 testers to get free copy

In a surprise turn around, Microsoft announced today that Windows 7 technical testers will be receiving a free copy of Windows 7 Ultimate.

In recent weeks Microsoft has faced angry reactions from bloggers and beta testers when they originally announced the testers 'thanks' was the discounted pre-order offer. Blogger Paul Thurrot claimed: "the painful thing here, for beta testers, is that they've been screwed" which demonstrated the reaction to the previous announcements.

In a blog posting at Microsoft's Windows Team Blog, Brandon LeBlanc confirmed: "to show our appreciation, members of the invitation-only Windows 7 Technical Beta Program will be eligible for a free, final copy of Windows 7 Ultimate." All current members of the English technical and international mini-beta programs are eligible for a full non-upgrade copy of Windows 7 Ultimate Edition. Testers can get access to their copy in one of two ways:

  • Download a copy and product key via Microsoft connect, English downloads will be available August 6th and other languages will follow as they become available.
  • Boxed retail copies are available in a limited amount and are being offered on a first come, first served basis. These copies will not be ready until October 22nd or later.

ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley recently highlighted the testing process and how the focus has been taken away from Microsoft's beta testers. Testers are no longer held in such high esteem it seems as Microsoft only supplied the same 2 public beta builds this time around. However, it's good to see Microsoft making a u-turn and admitting they were wrong to not provide a thank you to beta testers. Hopefully with Windows 8 Microsoft will focus on beta testers once again.

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Yesterday I received a Microsoft email telling me i'll be able to download the full and free Windows 7 Ultimate version on mid August...

BTW also got the Microsoft Office 2010 Technology Preview Invitation for test it!!!
Two good news from Microsoft in one day!!

Wow, took them long enough. I had a strong feeling that in the end they were going to do this. So is this how it will be from now on? We're going to have to beg Microsoft for a free copy? Not cool....I've been testing since Windows 2000 and it's never been like this.

Sweet glad Microsoft changed their mind about this, even thought I already pre-ordered 2 copies of home premium it's nice now I'll have a copy of Ultimate as well

I highly doubt it, but in a way this was an invite thing too, you had to enter a code from an e-mail to get in if I remember rightly... I doubt us people in that program will get free windows 7 though

brent3000 said,
AUgst 6th?? that means 7 will be finalised come AUG6th??

...no, that's the date that it's being made available to Technet/MSDN. It finalized earlier this month.

Big friggin woop ya know i wouldn't be so pi$$ed at M$ if they'd have offered new zealanders a chance to pre-order it but seeing as how we are getting nothin except kicked in the nut sack (again) i don't think i'll be buyin it for hundreds of dollars

Atlonite said,
Big friggin woop ya know i wouldn't be so pi$$ed at M$ if they'd have offered new zealanders a chance to pre-order it but seeing as how we are getting nothin except kicked in the nut sack (again) i don't think i'll be buyin it for hundreds of dollars

I wouldn't (and don't) pay hundreds of dollars for it to begin with!!
MS is one of the biggest, albeit, legal scams in the world!! The pricing of their software is rediculous!!

So people are expecting that because just because MS gave them free access to the RC, they also expect free access to the final version? Some people have some real nerve...

I wish all these people would actually stand by their words and go use their alternative OS so that there would be less malware-infested Windows boxes out there.

Pegus said,
I wish all these people would actually stand by their words and go use their alternative OS so that there would be less malware-infested Windows boxes out there.

Then we'd have malwafe infested [Other OS] boxes. It wouldn't solve anything.

Boo I wasn't invited to the technical preview. Oh well. Perhaps they'll do the same for those that got invited to technical beta for 2010

Today I Canceled My Pre Order Of Windows 7 2 Protest The Fact That Members Of The Public Beta (Like Myself), Are Not Getting The Free Copy Of Windows 7 Ultimate, Just FYI! I Am Half Way Thinking Of Returning 2 Linux As Well!

please be sarcasm
you received a brand new version of a complete operating system to use for FREE and certainly didn't do the same work that invited members do
and now you completely reject said OS, which you must've found completely stable, for an alternative

kevpan815 said,
Today I Canceled My Pre Order Of Windows 7 2 Protest The Fact That Members Of The Public Beta (Like Myself), Are Not Getting The Free Copy Of Windows 7 Ultimate, Just FYI! I Am Half Way Thinking Of Returning 2 Linux As Well!


Wow... just wow... you get the award for smartest comment of the day

I got Vista and Office for free (though with what I paid in taxes and the cost for the Anytime Upgrade to Ultimate, I could have just bought the Ultimate OEM), so I won't bitch too much if I don't get a free copy of 7, but it would be nice.

Step by step Microsoft is making up for its past mistakes. Good for them they always quickly listen to complaints and suggestions by customers hope they continue that way and make their products more better. NIce one MS +1

So hold on. I'm assuming this doesn't include the Windows Ecosystem connection... right? I had access to the beta and RC downloads and unique keys through that, but... I don't think that's quite what they meant... =/

Amazing. I am glad they did this, just like Vista. Although, I thought for Vista you had to submit at least one bug and that doesn't seem to be a requirement for W7 this time around.

I had a feeling Microsoft might do this...wasn't sure about it.

But the fact Vista was such a failure..they pretty much needed to make amends to people that wasted their time and money testing a product that was a complete flop. And the icing on the cake was offering discounts to the general public for upgrades as a way for Microsoft to say...sorry that you wasted your time and money.

Well done Microsoft. You get 2 thumbs up from me for the effort.

Now it's just up to the public on whether Windows 7 is a complete turnaround from Vista and that people like it....then you will get 2 thumbs and 2 toes up from me.

I did download Windows 7 Beta / RC from connect but I'm still unsure if I'm going to get a free copy. But either way it doesn't matter, I can get it through TechNet/MSDN. I'll double check my connect account though just in case!

You know, honestly, after the Vista fiasco about "why don't i get a free copy," we didn't really deserve one this time around.... People were complaining about it this time too after it went rtm and MS officially said we wouldn't be getting one..... I know it would have sucked, but u know, it is THEIR company. we can't dictate what they give us when they tell us up front that a free copy isn't guaranteed. But hey, I'm always appreciative of free stuff (though i did work for it, so it's not TECHNICALLY free), so thanx MS. After all the beatings you take, u still remember us BTs..... *Uber hug tackles Microsoft*

How do you go about getting the boxed copy? Will you have a choice of either the d/l or the boxed copy, or do you have to sign up for the boxed copy and get it based on availability?

By connect , do you mean Windows Ecosystem Readiness Program too ? I was a part of that. Got the Beta and the RC from connect.

Nice article Tom, didn't they do the same with us with beta testing Windows Vista as well... I recall getting an email about it, and then another saying thank you for all your hard work and here is a copy of Windows Vista Ultimate and here is your private personal link to download your complementary copy.

That's awesome!! Ive been running ever since the first leak of Windows 7 beta builds and was using the Windows 7 from Microsoft Connect. Hooray! I really want a retail box version, I guess I'll have to hold out until October Finally Microsoft realizes that people that have been testing it are going to get it one way or the other, might as well give them a legal copy. Sweet!!

Your post reminds me the days I was waiting for 6801, then to saw posts on enabling superbar on 6801. I really missed the upward-arrow back then. I don't like right-clicking.

I got TechNet when it was $250 for the first year, in anticipation for Win7. I can't wait for that download link to pop up on TechNet, so that I can "test" the new Win7! lol.

After all the bitching and moaning people did I'm surprised they changed their decision. Some people are just in it for the wrong reasons. Nevertheless, I will be anxiously waiting for the boxed copy.

Yah, but I think we don't have that many of these ppl in the beta as alot of us are buying the copies/family packs. It's really a nice surprise for us (for me at least).

I was more ****ed on how few builds we got. I still can't believe I had to rely on tpb for updates to the beta rather than Connect. I really felt being left-out in this beta.

Awesome news. I already ordered 3 upgrade copies of Home Premium for various PCs in my house, but this one is going on my main PC, just as the free Vista Ultimate copy did when I got it through the beta program =)

Awesome! A big "Thank You" to them! After testing 7 and purchasing a few Vista Ultimate licenses last year I was so disappointed that I didn't want to buy Windows 7 this time. Now this motivates me to buy the rest of the Windows 7 licenses I need.

leo221 said,
i still have a stack of free vista dvd/keys from microsoft since it RTMed. all legal, but never used.

and office 2007 pro too.

Same here. As it stands I was part of the Vista tech beta but lacked the extra machine needed to do proper testing. The whole setup was so vastly different that I couldn't do a proper transition. I would of with Windows 7 but the group must of been much smaller as I got no invite to that one. Oh well. I did get into some other big items though recently.

EDIT: They didn't announce the free copy until close to the end. At that point people tried to do retro bug reports to become eligible and were complaining that they didn't get one because the requirement was one bug report minimum. You could of posted like crazy and it wouldn't of mattered if you didn't post a report. I got a few in so got mine but really it was just a bonus to me. I go into betas without expectation of payment or reimbursement of my time so any goodies I get at the end are nice but not necessary. It sucks that so many people had to make a fuss about the testers not getting a license to Windows 7 because really you should consider that early preview and the ability to provide some direct feedback, that you know they see, as reward enough.

CUBBYJR2005 said,
luckily I am a technet member so I get the RTM on August 6,2009

But your copy won't be licensed for production use, only for evaluation.

DonC said,
But your copy won't be licensed for production use, only for evaluation.

Yea so make sure when the MS inspectors come to your house to check, you have a big sticker on the box that says "Development Test Windows 7 Box".... otherwise they slap your PP

DonC said,
But your copy won't be licensed for production use, only for evaluation.




so what I have the money to get the full version or upgrade at least i dont need to rush out in october and get it fast because the RTM will still be good after october 2009

shinji257 said,
Same here. As it stands I was part of the Vista tech beta but lacked the extra machine needed to do proper testing. The whole setup was so vastly different that I couldn't do a proper transition. I would of with Windows 7 but the group must of been much smaller as I got no invite to that one. Oh well. I did get into some other big items though recently.

EDIT: They didn't announce the free copy until close to the end. At that point people tried to do retro bug reports to become eligible and were complaining that they didn't get one because the requirement was one bug report minimum. You could of posted like crazy and it wouldn't of mattered if you didn't post a report. I got a few in so got mine but really it was just a bonus to me. I go into betas without expectation of payment or reimbursement of my time so any goodies I get at the end are nice but not necessary. It sucks that so many people had to make a fuss about the testers not getting a license to Windows 7 because really you should consider that early preview and the ability to provide some direct feedback, that you know they see, as reward enough.

Testers without a valid bug submission in Longhorn was given a Vista Business instead.

I kind of had a feeling this was coming, because at closure they said "stay tuned for further closing information" or something of that sort... same thing happened in vista

Yes and on the cllosure email they also said "All BETA content will be removed", for me it was hinting that there was going to be some non beta stuff there.

Cask1 said,
Yes and on the cllosure email they also said "All BETA content will be removed", for me it was hinting that there was going to be some non beta stuff there.

That's the same thing they said in vista "it will all be closed and removed after xxx date" then when that happened boom RTM build for download

Windows 7 Beta program on connect, Cool on a week from now I'll be installig legal RTM on my machine. Wasn't really expecting it but they must have changed their minds after all the rants in the newsgroups.

is this for the people that can access windows 7 stuff through the Windows Ecosystem Readiness Program on connect or is it another program on connect?

Edit: probably not

One indication for the eligibility is that, you should have access to a private newsgroup that ppl from MS announces the free-copy in the announcement newsgroup. If you don't have access to such groups, then you're unlikely to be getting the free copy.

The Ecosystem program was semi-public (i.e.: you could sign up for it without being invited.) It looks like they're only giving promo copies to people they invited like the WFP program and the managed beta.

/me reserves this space to comfort all those testers who *will* get the green weenie when they [Microsoft] announce the criteria for getting the free copy. Likely something like you had to have posted one bug report or something.

That's how it used to be unless it's been changed. In the W2K beta the requirements were that you file an installation report for all milestones shipped to you (not downloads) and file at least one bug report.

ir0nw0lf said,
/me reserves this space to comfort all those testers who *will* get the green weenie when they [Microsoft] announce the criteria for getting the free copy. Likely something like you had to have posted one bug report or something.


If you didn't post at least one bug or install survey, in my book you don't deserve a free copy

In my book, you don't deserve one unless you post at least five. Any idiot can post a stupid unreal bug and get a free copy... :/

Still, good move on MS' part!

Raa said,
In my book, you don't deserve one unless you post at least five. Any idiot can post a stupid unreal bug and get a free copy... :/

Still, good move on MS' part!

As for Longhorn, testers were given Ultimate only if they have a valid bug submission. Unreal bugs (including non-repro by MS) wasn't counted towards this. Testers who didn't have a valid bug got Business instead (so they still get a free copy).

MS is being even nicer to give out Ultimate for ALL tech beta testers regardless of bug submissions though.

least they seem to have developed it correctly. finally. a product that seems to be worth the investment.

Thanks beta testers, without your imput we'd be stuck at a ME second edition-like senario with vista.

GP007 said,
That's if you're one of those who think Vista is MeII, Lots don't share that view.

i agree! , Vista is definitely NOT WinMEII because there is a bigger change from XP to Vista than there was from Win98 to WinME.

where as Win7 is just a more polished version of Windows Vista. so if you wanted to look at it from that Logic Win7 could be considered a minimal change from the previous version of windows (i.e. Vista)

p.s. im not dissing Win7 as i was just making a point. im sure ill eventually get a copy of Windows7 'somehow' *wink wink*... but until then Windows Vista will have to due

ThaCrip said,
i agree! , Vista is definitely NOT WinMEII because there is a bigger change from XP to Vista than there was from Win98 to WinME.

where as Win7 is just a more polished version of Windows Vista. so if you wanted to look at it from that Logic Win7 could be considered a minimal change from the previous version of windows (i.e. Vista)

p.s. im not dissing Win7 as i was just making a point. im sure ill eventually get a copy of Windows7 'somehow' *wink wink*... but until then Windows Vista will have to due ;)

+1, Vista isn't WinMEII. I still remember how painful it was for me to have a stable session in ME. It crashes so often that I had to switch back to Win98SE. This is not the case for Vista as it wasn't crashing (although a little slow on my 6-year-old comp back then).

Kindda OT, my 9-year-old comp is running Win7 just like it's running XP with Aero off. I cant have Aero on cuz the gpu isn't up for my 46" TV.

Explorer icon takes you to your library instead of home folder

I thought they were fixing that between RC and RTM. I guess I'll find out in August

uhm.. It takes me to the libraries folder.. Tested it with the actual "Windows Explorer" thing from the start, and from the super bar.

Indeed. There are shortcut like hacks and ways to edit things to make this less annoying, but the problem still exists.

It's a lot like dropping the UP button...as in "WTF are they thinking?!"

Memnochxx said,
The explorer icon hasn't brought you to the libraries for like 6 months.

They only changed it back from Libraries to Computer for the WIN+E shortcut key. Clicking the icon on taskbar will still give you Libraries.

Hang on I tested the Beta and RC by signing up and downloading the isos from Microsoft, does that mean I'm entitled?

Edit: ******* I don't think I am :-(

thealexweb said,
Hang on I tested the Beta and RC by signing up and downloading the isos from Microsoft, does that mean I'm entitled?


The public betas arent included. Only the people who did it through microsoft connect. The people who got invited to do it from microsoft.

For one second there I thought Microsoft actually did some PR right then, knew it was to good to be true, before I was swaying towards the crowd of people saying Vista was awful and that I entitled to a copy and now this just seals the deal.

thealexweb said,
Hang on I tested the Beta and RC by signing up and downloading the isos from Microsoft, does that mean I'm entitled?

Edit: ******* I don't think I am :-(

Only if you were able to download through MS connect.

TCLN Ryster said,
The public copies were more a customer preview than an actual beta test.

I activated and sent feedback, I did my little bit to help make a refined product and then Microsoft does this, it just annoys me slightly.

thealexweb said,
I activated and sent feedback, I did my little bit to help make a refined product and then Microsoft does this, it just annoys me slightly.

Feedback is not the same as bug reporting. The public dont have teams of staff triaging their feedback submissions etc.

Also, the public preview was open to pretty much every person in the world. Did you really expect them to give a free copy to every person in the world what wanted one? Get real my friend.

thealexweb said,
I activated and sent feedback, I did my little bit to help make a refined product and then Microsoft does this, it just annoys me slightly.

Thousands of people did the same, and it would be counterproductive to give everyone a free product.
Judging from how you're reacting to this news: "I was about to think vista was crap, and that I should get 7 free" the testing really had nothing to do with why you wanted Windows 7 for free at all. You aren't entitled to anything, most of the time testers don't get anything. They do it because it's fun to test the cutting edge and brag, and occasionally find some bug amidst this fun that takes 3-4 minutes to report.

You don't really get anything for free when you take part in a public beta and release candidate test. They are entitled to your information... basic system and software install. Bug reports (auto filed) and the like.

Users invited to the Windows Feedback Program for W7 should be receiving free copies, too. See? Paul Thurott's not so bad.

M. Seth said,
Only if you were able to download through MS connect.

So is this the Windows Ecosystem program on Connect? There's some confusion as to which program is eligible for the freebie. I got my beta through Connect, but I don't think I'm eligible for the freebie.

majortom1981 said,
The public betas arent included. Only the people who did it through microsoft connect. The people who got invited to do it from microsoft.

I tried thru connect, but by that time they were going for the first public beta. which was better than the alpha that was leaked. Frankly the beta used far less memory than RC1. RC1 I hope isn't the finished product because is sucks up more memory than Vista. o_O And crashes too and Vista rarely if ever crashed. Not even sure if I'd get Windows 7 even if I got it free.

Xerloq said,
So is this the Windows Ecosystem program on Connect? There's some confusion as to which program is eligible for the freebie. I got my beta through Connect, but I don't think I'm eligible for the freebie.

I was in the Windows Ecosystem as well, but I don't think that counts.

thealexweb said,
I activated and sent feedback, I did my little bit to help make a refined product and then Microsoft does this, it just annoys me slightly.


yeah that would irritate me. for those who did hit feeback, shouldn't those be included?? Because whenever I found a bug, I hit feedback. Do that now even on RC1 with the feedback tweak.

thealexweb said,
I activated and sent feedback, I did my little bit to help make a refined product and then Microsoft does this, it just annoys me slightly.


I agree, this is a huge slap in the face for all those people who had to put up with all the bugs and problems of 7, many people having completely unusable computers for the entire time. I even heard a few just blew up as soon as it finished installing, but I haven't heard that confirmed anywhere. And now you aren't even getting a friendly email offering thanks?

PatrynXX said,
yeah that would irritate me. for those who did hit feeback, shouldn't those be included?? Because whenever I found a bug, I hit feedback. Do that now even on RC1 with the feedback tweak.

tech beta testers are supposedly to do far more than simply submitting feedback, such as:
- vote and validates bug submissions on Connect
- perform tests, vote, and validates on Feature Focus
- participate different Live Meetings, or at least read the transcripts
- participate private newsgroup discussions

These testers also used to receive far more interim builds than the public ctp, but not for Win7 this time around.

majortom1981 said,
I am applaud microsoft . They are trying their hardest to change their image. Its getting awfully hard to hate microsoft lately.

They certainly are trying to change there image in a lot of ways. I think they got a real shock lately, and seemed to have curbed a lot of the predatory business practices they used to employ. Hopefully this will continue.

Adaytay said,
Ohhh poo Wasn't in the Tech Beta. Let's hope they do the same thing for Office though... that'd be cool!


Ha! Office hasn't given free versions out for many betas now...

freeza said,
Damn, that rocks.

yeah except o forgot the emailaddress/login credentials i used with msft...... and i used a fake name so ..........
Magic 8 ball will i get a copy anyway?

answer: :no: :no: :no: :no:

Why are they being punished? I guess the really unlucky ones are getting two copies. Just kidding ;-)

Didn't they have a huge testing program this time around?