First beta of Windows 7 may (or may not) be handed out next Tuesday

As Microsoft's annual MSDN Developers' Conference nationwide tour begins next week, attendees will be among the first to receive a DVD of Windows 7 Beta 1, according to an online invitation the company posted yesterday.

Every year, Microsoft sends a handful of its most popular conference presenters on a nationwide tour, at special MSDN events that are usually held in small conference arenas or hotels, or sometimes rented movie theaters. Attendance is $99 for the one-day event, and with this tour, attendees are promised a big giveaway package that includes Windows 7 Beta 1.

Although Windows 7 Ultimate-branded DVDs were passed out at PDC in Los Angeles last October, these were not actual betas per se of the new operating system. Microsoft made no pretense of the fact that they were retooled editions of Windows Vista to give developers a glimpse of what they might see in Win7, even though the screen clearly brands the software on-screen as "Windows 7 Build 6801." Those disks were marked "Pre-release preview," and though BetaNews received its own along with everyone else, we were warned that much of the kernel in that build was actually Vista. Internal builds being tested at that time and since actually do contain new code, we were told.

So beginning next Tuesday, December 9, developers in the Houston area will be able to spend one day attending their choice of four sessions, and in so doing, will receive a copy of what Microsoft is officially calling "Windows 7 Beta 1." This will likely be the first official handout of a publicly-branded Win7 beta. This according to the company's official invitation posted yesterday.

Successive cities on the MSDN tour are Orlando, Florida (Dec. 11); Atlanta (December 16); Chicago (Jan 13); Minneapolis (also Jan. 13); Washington, DC (Jan. 16); New York City (Jan. 20); Boston (Jan. 22); Detroit (Jan. 22); Dallas (Jan. 26); and San Francisco (February 19).

Update banner (stretched)

2:32 pm EST December 3, 2008 - An astute BetaNews reader who apparently knew about reading the small print when it comes to announcements such as this, spotted a phrase in the "About" page for this year's MSDN conference tour, indicating that some attendees may not receive the Windows 7 beta on the day they attend.

"All attendees will receive a Windows 7 Beta 1 DVD. Attendees at events scheduled for December will have DVDs mailed to them when they become available," the notice reads. This suggests that Beta 1 may actually be released in January, which is when many existing testers had been told to expect it anyway.

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