…and maybe slap your gramma, but I’m not that type.

UPDATE: I’ve put the download of Windows 7 English 32-bit up here. Note that you’ll still need a key from Microsoft. Get it quick, before my bandwidth runs out!

In all seriousness, the response to Microsoft’s new operating system, due out when Microsoft is good and ready (a close paraphrase of their words at the recent Consumer Electronics Show), was absolutely phenomenal. Microsoft said it themselves. So phenomenal, in fact, that they had to farm out downloads of Windows 7 to Akamai, an outfit known for providing high-speed downloads at high prices, and one who is incidentally just a few hops away from the Mines network.

Server troubles aside, put succinctly, Windows 7 gives the performance of Windows XP with the features of Windows Vista…and then some. As anyone who downloads the beta will find, the operating system is stable enough to be used in a production environment (I’m doing just that) and feature-complete enough that, in most cases, you won’t miss whatever version of Windows came on your coputer for its system-centric addons.

Windows 7 has been retooled a fair amount so it will take some getting used to, especially if you’re upgrading directly from Windows XP. Though you can change some settings beck to their old positions, some streamlining on Widnows 7 is irreversible.

Wth that bit of fair warning, go out and text Windows 7 right now. If you have a system that will run Windows Vista, it’ll run Windows 7 better. If you have two or thre GB of memory, you can even run Windows 7 inside Windows Vista via something like Sun’s free VirtualBox, and it still might be faster. If you’re using Windows XP, if you’d feel somewhat uncomfortable about putting Vista on your machine, Windows 7 will work just fine. Yes, it’s hat good.

One problem: Microsoft is now unsure as to when it’s shipping Windows 7, at least that’s what they said a few days ago in their CES keynote. Though the OS is obviously nearly ready for prime time, Microsoft is unwilling to commit to a 2009 launch. Sad indeed, considering I’d buy a copy for my new Vista-equipped laptop as soon as it came out. Additionally, the back-to-school season would be a nice time for the-Windows-that-didn’t-suck to hit store shelves, both on systems and in shiny rounded-corner boxes everywhere.

I’ll be either writing an article in the paper or a post here about Windows 7 (maybe both) with a fuller review. Until then, you can download the beta here, here and at locations that I’ll post on my Twitter account later, once I’ve had time to upload them. Yes, the second link is from BitTorrent; it may be more reliable than Microsoft’s own download site and, as long as you go back to Microsoft and get a key, you’re 100% legit the way I see it. The other links are to a few different locations I’m setting up on my own web host accounts, in case you find Microsoft’s own downloads too slow. Which means that they cost me money, so only use them in times of most dire need, or if you’re going to do me some sort of favor in return :-) .

The bottom line: Windows is cool again. Let’s just hope Microsoft kicks their development program into high gear and spits Windows 7 out before Apple launches another successful smear campaign against the company.

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