Office 2007 Downloads Top 3 Million

In the two months since its debut, Office 2007 Beta 2 has been downloaded by over three million people, Microsoft told BetaNews Friday. In fact, the demand has been so high that the company has decided to begin charging customers $1.50 USD for the download beginning August 2.

The beta bits, which weigh in at 550MB for the primary Office applications and 2GB for the full suite, have put a considerable strain on Microsoft's network. The company says demand has surpassed expectations by 500%, and it has decided to add the small fee as a "cost recovery measure" for future downloads.

A Microsoft spokesperson explained that the Redmond company does not plan to make charging for betas a regular practice, and Beta 2 users will not be charged for a Technical Refresh build that is expected to be released in the coming weeks. The Beta 2 Refresh is set to include a number of refinements to Office 2007, including more polished icons and themes along with bug fixes.

"It can kind of be equated to the shipping and handling charge that has been required for a physical DVD of the beta," the spokesperson said. "Another option would be to simply take the download offline and not make it available anymore, but we are still seeing significant interest in the beta and want to provide it as an option for those interested."

Microsoft will continue to offer its online test drive program free of charge. The Web-based demo showcases the new user interface and features found in Office 2007 without requiring a large download or installation of beta software.

"It really speaks well for the product and the excitement surrounding it that after 2 months and over 3M downloads, it’s still going strong," added the Microsoft spokesperson.

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