MS UK offers free Windows .NET Server beta eval CDs

That nice of them...

Microsoft UK is offering free evaluation CDs of Windows .NET Server beta 3, in Web, Standard, Enterprise and Datacenter flavours. The offer doesn't appear to be valid elsewhere in the world, but according to a discussion thread at Neowin (thanks to Neowin for the tip) the system is at least taking orders from hopeful punters elsewhere in the world.

We suspect, however, that the CDs are unlikely to actually arrive at destinations outside the UK. Historically Microsoft has tended to offer beta software for the great mass of users when the product is getting near done and dusted, the theory - we surmise with some certainty - that getting time-expiring betas into the hands of large numbers of people is both a cheap marketing tool and a way to build mailing lists for future marketing exercises.

So if Microsoft UK is going for it, maybe other Microsoft territories are poised to go with the offer as well. On the other hand, while it might make some sense to try to get large numbers of people interested in WinXP or Office XP, so they'll maybe buy it when the beta times out, .Net Server doesn't seem quite the same thing. Large companies interested in the software will already be evaluating it anyway, and a wider trawl will surely .NET large numbers of people who couldn't afford to buy it and don't have a rational need for it anyway.

But who are we to look a gift horse in the mouth? The sign-up page is here (Passport required, but just sign up for a new one then forget all the details and never use it again - that's what we always do). You'll note, also, that MS UK has quite a nice range of eval software available. What nice people. ®

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