The Microsoft server is already struggling due to thousands of people refreshing the Windows 7 page every second trying to be the first to download Windows 7 Beta.

Good news is, you don’t have to wait - you can get it now! Here are a couple of links officially from Microsoft that lead to the Windows 7 Beta download for 32-bit and 64-bit editions

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/evalcenter/dd353205.aspx (US)
http://www.microsoft.com/uk/windows/windows-7/beta-download.aspx (UK)
http://technet.microsoft.com/zh-cn/evalcenter/dd353205.aspx (China)

Update: Looks like all the links are down. An announcement from Brandon LeBlanc tells us they are working on improving the conditions with the server before officially posting the link. However we have found official ISO download links straight from the Microsoft server.

Update 2: Someone from our forums have found working direct links to the .iso! Check out our Windows 7 Forums now and engage in some Windows 7 Discussion.

Make sure to check out our post on 10 things you need to know before installing Windows 7 Beta (full Story with Thanks)

Chrome gets Mac deadline, extensions foundation  

Posted by Mohammad Talha in , , ,

Showing signs that it's working to meet requests for new developments to its Chrome browser, Google on Friday said it hopes to release versions for Mac OS X and Linux by the first half of the year, and it released a new version Wednesday that paves the way for the most requested feature: extensions.

Google has high hopes for Chrome--in particular, the Internet giant wants better performance, so browsing the Web is faster and Web-based applications are more powerful. Now Google is filling in some missing pieces Chrome needs in order to attain wider usage.

Brian Rakowski, Chrome's product manager, said the company wants to release Chrome for Mac and Linux before the first half of 2009 is up.

"That's what we've been hoping for," he said in an interview Friday. "Those two efforts proceeding in parallel. They're at the same level of progress."

The Mac and Linux versions are up to the level of a basic "test shell" that can show Web pages. But a test shell is pretty raw.

"That team now is able to render most Web pages pretty well. But in terms of the user experience, it's very basic," Rakowski said of the Mac version. "We have not spent any time building out features. We're still iterating on making it stable and getting the architecture right."

In an unscientific CNET News survey from November, a Mac version was the second most common barrier to getting people to switch to Chrome, trailing only faster performance. Eager beavers can monitor Google's Chrome for Mac progress and install the Mac test shell.

Extensions en route
Another major missing piece of Chrome is a framework to handle extensions, optional features that can be downloaded and plugged in to customize the browser. Extensions were one of the early advantages that helped Firefox blossom, it's the top-requested feature for Chrome, and it ranked third in the CNET survey of Chrome barriers.

But a new cutting-edge version of Chrome, 2.0.156.1, gets support for some "Greasemonkey" scripts to customize the browser, a move that lays the groundwork for extensions, Rakowski said.

"We have user script support. That's a baby step," he said. As Chrome develops, Google will "expose more capabilities, then expose containers where can you have your own toolbar-like thing. You'll see it evolve over time."

Google promised an extensions framework when Chrome launched, and more recently, Google outlined its Chrome extensions vision.

Counting Chrome
Google released Chrome 1.0 in December, just three months after the software publicly debuted, and the company is working hard to maintain a fast development pace. Wednesday's version, though not for the general public, is the first to sport the version 2 number.

Also updated with the new version is Google's Chrome release structure.

Before, Google let people subscribe to two Chrome update channels: beta and developer. The first was for relatively well-tested versions; the second for programmers, Web developers, and people with more curiosity and a higher bug threshold.

Now there are three Chrome channels: stable, beta, and developer preview.

Most folks will just use the stable version, which Google expects to update roughly once a quarter, Rakowski said. "The beta channel is now what the developer channel used to be," he added, with newer features but still a reasonable amount of testing. Newest is the developer preview channel, where code will be frequently updated and much more raw, and where Google expects some features to fail and be withdrawn.

Google expects to issue new developer preview versions roughly every couple weeks and new beta releases roughly monthly, Rakowski said. (full Story)

MSI X320 Macbook Air Look-Alike  

Posted by Mohammad Talha in , , , , , ,

Talk about identical twins. The MSI X320, which launched at CES 2009, will be a perpetual reminder of the Apple Macbook Air. I don't want to call it a cheap knock-off, even though it is, as prices range from $800-$1,000; there's more to this exceptionally thin netbook than just a cheap price tag.

In fact, it's pleasantly surprising to see just how far MSI has come with the laptops that it plans to ship in the United States later this January.

The X320, like the Air, has an all-aluminum enclosure. Granted, it's not as sturdy nor as rigid, and the heft isn't quite there (with the Air, there's a heft that's equivalent to a Rolex watch). The rest of the design is almost identical: Its slim profile measures less than an inch thick, and it weighs 2.9 pounds; the Air is a smidge over 3 pounds. The X320 is a 13-inch laptop, meaning it houses a 13-inch widescreen. It uses the 16-by-9 form factor, as is common in HDTVs, and its monitor is rated at 1,366x768 resolution; the Air, meanwhile, is designed in a 16-by-10 form factor with a 1,280x800 resolution. The LED screen is bright and pleasant to look at, not much different than the Air's.

The keyboard appears to be full sized, with standard proportions, instead of the non-adjoining keys that the Air uses; I had very little trouble typing with it. Navigating is another story, though. For one, the touchpad is significantly smaller than the Air's, and it doesn't possess the gesture capabilities: pinching and enlarging with two fingers and the two and three finger swiping, for instance, don't work.

That's not to say that the X320 won't have touch capabilities, though. The company expects to add gestures to the widescreen itself, with the help of future models and Windows 7. The mouse buttons are loose and not very responsive, but I'll chalk that up to pre-production issues until I get an official review unit.

However, the X320's other features can actually put the Air to shame. For one, like many netbooks, it has more than one USB port – a total of three, to be exact. VGA and Ethernet ports are built in, and so are the SD slot and webcam. The hard drive is a 160-GB, 5,400 RPM model, expandable to 250 GB. There's no internal 3G wireless for the time being, but Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are present. (full Story)

Nvidia Reveals G100M Notebook Series  

Posted by Mohammad Talha in , , , , ,

With less than the usual amount of fanfare, Nvidia announced at CES the availability of new G100M series notebook GPUs for mainstream notebooks. There are three new processors in the series: the G105M and G110M GPUs for mainstream consumer notebooks, and the G130M for slightly higher-end entertainment notebooks.

Pricing wasn't mentioned, and the technical specs are slim on details. The G105M contains 8 processor cores, a 64-bit memory interface, and Nvidia says it is "55% faster than the previous product in this segment," a GeForce 9200M GE. The G110M is slightly more capable with 16 processing cores, but still maintains a 64-bit memory interface. Nvidia claims that the G110M is 35 percent faster than a GeForce 9300M GS. The GeForce GT 130M has 32 processor cores and a 128-bit memory interface. Nvidia says it is 17 percent faster than the GeForce 9600M GT.

Looking at the specs, it appears that these are not really new GPUs, per se. These could simply be new products built on the same mobile chips as their predecessors, die-shrunk to 55nm (from 65nm) and clocked up for higher performance. (full Story)

I’ve always found biometrics to be an interesting aspect to technology. And I was excited to discover that Windows 7 offers changes to the way Windows handles biometrics to enable better experiences. Windows 7 introduces the Windows Biometric Framework which makes integration easier and more consistent to help deliver enhanced reliability, compatibility and usability of fingerprint-based solutions. The Windows Biometric Framework also makes it easier for developers to include biometrics in their applications by providing a common API that can be added independently with each biometric fingerprint solution. For a more in-depth look at the Windows Biometric Framework check out this whitepaper from Windows Hardware Developer Central.

This week at CES 2009, we have several key partners announcing support for the Windows Biometric Framework in Windows 7.

With tens of millions of notebooks in the market with UPEK fingerprint sensors, UPEK has worked closely with us on the development of the Windows Biometric Framework and sees strong value in using applications that support fingerprint biometrics through the Windows Biometric Framework. If your laptop uses a UPEK fingerprint sensor, such as my Lenovo X300, you can download the pre-release Protector Suite software here which utilizes the Windows Biometric Framework in the Windows 7 Beta today. I’m currently testing it out myself and its pretty slick! Rob Blau, UPEK’s Vice President of Development, talks more about UPEK’s support for Windows 7 here in their press release (Word Document).

AuthenTec has also worked closely with us on the development of the Windows Biometric Framework. They are providing beta test participants with access to software that enable convenient logon for Windows 7-based PCs, thanks to AuthenTec fingerprint sensors integrated with the new Windows Biometric Framework. You can download their 32-bit software here and their 64-bit software here. AuthenTec fingerprint sensors can be seen in business and consumer notebooks from the world’s leading brands from ASUS, Acer, Dell, Fujitsu, Fujitsu Siemens, HP, Lenovo, LG, Samsung and Toshiba. Andy VanDamia, AuthenTec’s Director of PC Software, discusses working with us on the Windows Biometric Framework here.

And Validity believes the Windows Biometric Framework facilitates greater adoption of fingerprint security solutions by providing a flexible platform, enabling easy fingerprint sensor integration into PCs.

The early adoption and readiness by these companies has played a vital role in validating the suitability of the Windows Biometric Framework as a platform for fingerprint biometric devices in Windows 7. (story Link)

Today’s the big day. In about 12 hours (at 12PM PST/3PM EST), Microsoft will be posting the download link for Windows 7 Beta to the general public. Remember, Microsoft said that it would only be made available to the first 2.5 million people who download the beta so be sure to download it as soon as the link goes up on this page. But before you download and install Windows 7 Beta, here are 8 very important things you should know beforehand:

10.  Windows 7 Beta is build 7000:

win7buildcropThe Windows 7 Beta being released on January 9th is Build 7000, which is exactly the same build that has been leaked on torrent sites already. Microsoft says that this beta build is near final feature-wise.

9.  Windows 7 Beta will have bugs / MP3 corruption bug fix:

It’s easy to forget that Windows 7 Beta can have possible bugs because of how stable it is. Try not to keep sensitive data on the same partition and run Windows Update right after installation. If you don’t receive the KB961367 update through Windows Update  to fix the Mp3 corruption bug, you can download it here.

8.  You can run Windows 7 under VMWare or Virtual PC instead of actually doing a full-fledged install

virtpc

In Layman’s terms, running Windows 7 under a virtual environment is like running an Operating System (OS) inside an OS, so you don’t have to worry about putting your actual computer at risk. You can start by downloading Virtual PC here for free. For further instructions please check out the tutorial here. (The tutorial is for running XP in Vista, but works for Windows 7 too. Just select Windows Vista at the OS Menu. When your mouse is in the Virtual PC area, press Right-Alt to drag your mouse back onto the screen of your current OS.) If you’re a VMWare User, many other VMWare users in community forums have said they have had no trouble getting Windows 7 to work with VMWare.

7. You don’t need to burn a DVD at all to install Windows 7:

You can use WinRAR or .iso mounting software that have extracting capabilities to extract the ISO’s contents into a folder. Once extracted, you can install Windows 7 Beta off your hard-drive just like any other OS.

6.  How to create a separate partition for your Windows 7 Beta installation:newsimpvol1

Usually, the Windows 7 Installation wizard will have an option for you to easily create a new partition for the install. If the option is not provided, here is how you can manually set up the partitions within Windows. If you are running Windows Vista, open up your Start Menu, right click Computer, and choose Manage. Then in the left-pane, open up the Storage category and select Disk Management. Right click any area of Unallocated Space and create a New Simple Volume. From there, complete the wizard to create your new volume. Once created, make sure that it is a Primary Partition.Now you’re all set and good to go with the installation.

prim

If you are running Windows XP or having problems creating a partition in Windows Vista, you can download the EASEUS Partition Manager. EPM is only compatible with Windows XP and Vista. The process for creating a new partition with EPM is the exact same as above, except that you must select to create a Primary partition as shown below:primary

5.  The driver model of Windows 7 is identical to Vista’s:

This means Windows 7 won’t suddenly bring life back to your XP-only hardware. If it didn’t work for Vista, it won’t work for Windows 7.

4.  Don’t take out those driver CDs yet…

Windows 7 contains updated hardware drivers so chances are you won’t need to install a single driver if your hardware isn’t as old as Zeus. Also don’t forget that Windows 7 would require an optimized graphics driver to take advantage of the hardware you have (WDDM 1.1) so you may want to think again before planning to force-install the latest beta drivers from Nvidia or ATI. (full Story with Thank)

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