Windows Vista: Download vs. DVD

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A few minutes ago, in an online group chat, Microsoft Windows Featured Community leaders received the following stream of information regarding the number of sanctioned downloads for Windows Vista Beta 2. This report comes directly from Microsoft’s own Aaron Coldiron:

Yes, you can immediately publish what I’m about to tell you. You are literally the first to hear this – but I probably won’t be able to satisfy all your appetite for questions. ;) I wanted to update you on downloads for the Windows Vista Beta 2. Demand for Beta 2 has been huge – which we expected. But, we are hitting ceilings on bandwidth. Right now we are serving out product keys 10x faster than we can serve the downloads. Already this is the biggest software download event in history. There’s two points I want to give you:

  1. We are pumping out bits as fast as we can. If we pushed out bits any faster there would be a measurable impact for the Internet. So, we are literally saying that if we increased our bandwidth any further there’s a possibility of taking down the Internet – people might have problems with World Cup viewing, etc. That would [sic] be bad. So, it isn’t that we weren’t anticipating demand – we were and are – it is that we are at the threshold of what the Internet can bear.
  2. We want to encourage people who can wait to order the DVD. The DVD guarantees you RC1 upgrade (as long as you activate). DVDs will take about 1 – 4 weeks to arrive depending where in the world you live. And, I want to emphasize that we aren’t making money on the DVDs. We are just charging for cost of goods and shipping. Along with that – people who have PID keys may have a wait on their hands to get the download. This could be several days to even up to a week or more in some cases. That speaks to why ordering the DVD might be a good option. People who already have PID keys and want to get the DVD just need to go back to the GetReady site and go through the process there. They will get a new PID key.

When I asked why they couldn’t just seed it as a torrent (BitTorrent), Aaron responded:

There are legal and privacy issues which unfortunately make that not an option for Microsoft to officially sponsor a BitTorrent. I really wish we could do it, but we can’t. If someone [seeds or downloads a torrent] we can’t guarantee that they’ve got an unaltered copy, etc.

Even though Microsoft can’t sanction the seeding of a Windows Vista Beta 2 torrent, they’re probably not going to do anything to stop it from happening. I do hope that someone will officially produce an MD5 hash so that users can compare checksums! Aaron continued:

Stats – right now we don’t have any specific stats to share. Let me just say that demand is on the upper ends of our projections. We’ve been pretty clear in all our messaging that this beta will be limited. Limited in the # of people. I can’t give you any direction on this at this time. So, no comment.

The Internet needs to decide: Windows Vista Beta 2 or World Cup? :)