Microsoft has announced that it will suspend the fixed download limit for the beta version of Windows 7 following a surge in demand crashed the Microsoft website late last week. Instead, the company says that unlimited copies will be available for download until January 24, widening the beta test pool well beyond its initial 2.5 million user limit.

To get an early look at the upcoming operating system head over to the official download page. You will need a DVD burner to write the Windows 7 beta 1 ISO file to a disc, and have to meet the minimum hardware requirements, which include a 1 GHz processor, 1 GB of system memory and 16 GB of hard drive space. It goes without saying that you should avoid installing Windows 7 on your primary machine but rather use a spare system or at least dual boot using a separate partition - it's a pretty straightforward process but here's a guide in case you need some help.

Additionally, if you do decide to give Windows 7 a go, be sure to stay current with the release notes which are regularly updated with new notices and information. In particular, Microsoft recommends you read the MP3 files and Windows Media Center notes and install the related updates before using the Beta.