Microsoft confirms pre-beta Windows 7 for PDC attendees

Attendees will get code on 160GB USB drive

Microsoft Wednesday squelched speculation on when the public would get its hands on Windows 7 code by confirming that attendees at its Professional Developers Conference would receive a pre-beta version.

Microsoft blogger Dan Fernandez, an evangelist for developers and platforms at the company, said every PDC attendee would get a pre-beta build of Windows 7 on a custom 160GB external USB 2.0 drive.

There is still no official word when Beta 1 of Windows 7 will be shipped. Microsoft has said it plans to ship the final version of Windows 7 around January 2010.

The company also said Steven Sinofsky, senior vice president for the Windows and Windows Live Engineering Group, would deliver a keynote address on October 28, the second day of the Los Angeles conference. Previously, Ray Ozzie, Microsoft's chief technology officer and leader of its cloud computing initiative; Scott Guthrie, corporate vice president of Microsoft's .Net Developer Division; and David Treadwell, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Live Platform Services, were scheduled to speak at that time.

Ozzie and Bob Muglia, senior vice president of the server and tools division, will give the keynote on the first day, which was already part of the original PDC agenda.

Fernandez also said Windows 7 will be featured in 21 sessions. Those sessions will show attendees improvements in the operating system including the kernel, networking, hardware and devices, and user-interface, according to the official conference Web site.

To date, IT has heard nothing about the new networking features in Windows 7.

The Windows 7 sessions will cover topics such as energy efficiency; graphics systems; building communication applications; documents and printing convergence; new APIs to find, visualize and organize; new text and graphics APIs; the operating system's design principals; and APIs for building context-aware applications.

A video posted Monday on Microsoft's Channel 9 blog offered minimal hints to other content at the PDC, but it did reveal that Ozzie would lay out his comprehensive services platform. The video also shows the USB 2.0 drive that will be handed out.

A beta version of Windows 7 called Milestone 3 has been sent to select testers and Mary Jo Foley's "All about Microsoft" blog is pegging the end of the year for the first public beta.

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