A full pre-beta release of Microsoft's next desktop operating system (OS) will become available in January, when the software giant launches its first Windows 7 beta.
A DVD containing the beta will be handed to attendees of Microsoft's Developer Conference to be held on January 14, and attendees of all prior Microsoft events will be mailed a copy of the pre-release version when it becomes available.
Windows 7 was first shown to developers at the Professional Developers Conference in October. At the event, Microsoft walked attendees through the highlights of the new OS: better performance, an improved user experience, and some nifty media-sharing features.
Overall, Microsoft's pitch was quite compelling, and the PDC crowd was practically salivating at the chance to play with Microsoft's latest and greatest.
Microsoft has yet to officially confirm Windows 7's release date, although early indications suggested it would become available to consumers in January 2010. More recently, Microsoft executives have suggested the OS could be launched before the end of next year.