If you haven't snagged your beta copy of Windows 7 yet, there's good news – due to the mess that was the original beta launch, Microsoft is suspending the 2.5 million download cap.

According to CNet, the company is making amends for a failed launch last week by postponing the introduction of a cap on the number of people who can download the public beta – originally set at 2.5 million – for two weeks, ending on the 24th of January. From the 25th onwards, the beta will be unavailable if the cap has been hit.

While the downloads themselves – two ISO files, comprising the 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows 7 Beta – appeared on file sharing networks almost immediately after launch, keys are only accessible via the official Microsoft website. At least, that's the theory. According to reports on several websites – including ITWire, there are a selection of codes which have been leaked and are valid for multiple installs – allowing a user to get their hands on an activated copy of the beta without the need to sign up to the programme officially. Whether this is a temporary loophole – and for how long the systems will remain activated once Microsoft gets wind of the leak – is unknown.

However you get hold of your beta, some things haven't changed – the operating system will remain usable until August 1st, at which point you'll be looking to re-install either the final release of Windows 7 – which you'll have to pay for – or your previous operating system. It's not known yet whether there will be an upgrade path to the full release at that time, but from experience of previous betas I would think it unlikely.

Tempted to snag a copy of the beta now that the site is playing nicely – and you don't have to rush – or are you going to let others experience the teething pains and pick the next version of Windows up some time around Service Pack 2? Share your thoughts over in the forums.
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