Microsoft hasn't published a public-facing time line for Windows 7. Still, the company has already indicated that Beta 1 of the new OS will be available in mid-January for attendees of MSDN Developer Conference events.
Sleuthing by veteran Microsoft watcher Mary-Jo Foley turned up a build date of Dec. 12 for the latest version of Windows 7. Private testers currently may have that build (known as "6.1.7000.0.081212-1400") in their hands, leaving open the possibility that the beta could be accessible before Christmas, but probably just for private testers rather than the public, Foley suggested.
Microsoft isn't saying exactly when Windows 7 Beta 1 will be publicly released, but one blogger summed up the sentiment at Redmond. James O'Neill wrote that "It might be before Christmas, but then again it might be after."
Foley and others have postulated that the Beta 1 public release of Windows 7 will happen when Steve Ballmer gives his keynote address at the Consumer Electronics Association's CES event on Jan. 7.
More confusion was spawned by a Web site publishing glitch. A Neowin.net article pointed out that Microsoft added a "Download the Windows 7 Beta" link on its Windows 7 Web site (see screenshot clip below).
That link was present, but inoperable, early on Friday, Dec. 19. However, the link has since been removed from Microsoft's site. An updated Neowin article described the link's initial appearance as a "publishing error" by Microsoft.
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