Windows 7 Public Beta Launch, and The Trouble With Too Much Traffic

Update 1: Microsoft has now pulled the public beta, and several people that managed to start a download have had the download killed. They have now replaced the text on Technet to “Windows® 7 Beta coming soon!”. This just keeps getting better, I’ve only spent 2.5 hours trying to sign up and start this download and all the MS pages associated with the download now return 404 errors.

I’ll start this Blog post with a disclaimer that if you don’t like rants, then stop here. As some of you may be aware today Microsoft officially launched their Windows 7 Public Beta, which is available to the first 2.5 million people that sign up. Now you might think well I’ll just go over to Microsoft’s website sign up, then download my copy where in reality their servers are most likely nearly on fire! I’ve seen the screen “Server is too busy” well over 200 times, and I’ve seen their error page around 20 different times. I’ve now also seen the signup page twice, however after submitting my data the server was then too busy to process it, and I was redirected to an error page so I can’t even repost my request, and I’m now back in the queue (90+ minutes and counting) to reenter my data.

In my eyes the Windows 7 Public Beta launch is a monster failure because they definitely didn’t extend their planning to making sure that their Microsoft profile website / web server could handle this kind of website traffic volume. I personally find this extremely ironic as Microsoft claims to make the best Web server Internet Information Services (IIS). On a side note this is actual the second failed launch I’ve witnessed within the last 30 days on an IIS server, if this doesn’t say another about its performance under a heavy load I don’t know what does. The other failed launch was for NCIX for their boxing day sale which started on December 24th at 4PM, their website was down with Server is too busy message (if it actually showed up at all) for the first 45 minutes, and even then it took 30 minutes to add 3 items to my cart and complete my transaction!

What Microsoft should have done for their Windows 7 Public Beta Launch was 1) not to use one of their main websites and used a dedicated website on a dedicated load balanced server setup 2) Put together a queue based system which emulates standing through a lineup so people weren’t constantly refreshing and putting more load on the server 3) Removed that error page so that you can resume from the point in your signup where the process failed instead of having to redo steps 4) Switch to Apache and PHP and actually run an efficient web server and scripting language.

Steve Balmer at CES said “We’re putting in all the right ingredients [to Windows 7]: simplicity, reliability and speed. And we’re working hard to get it right and to get it ready.” All I have to say to Steve Balmer is “Thanks for nothing, and try putting those ingredients into Windows Server and IIS as I’m not seeing any reliability or speed”.

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