Take Windows 7 for a free test drive Saturday!

Do you want to take part in the world’s biggest beta test program? Then this Saturday is your chance when Microsoft unleashes the Beta 1 edition of Windows 7 onto the Net.

It’ll be a download free-for-all as the keen and the curious hammer Redmond’s servers to grab their copy of the Windows 7 ‘build 7000’ ISO. The disk image contains Windows 7 Ultimate Edition with the 32-bit ISO weighing in at 2.5GB and the 64-bit version as 3.2GB.

The minimum recommended hardware is a 1GHz processor 1GB of RAM 16GB of disk space and support for DX9 graphics with 128MB of memory to enable the Windows 7 Aero theme.

Beta 1 sees the debut of features such as touchscreen and multitouch support woven into the OS and enhancements to the task bar to create the Super Bar.

Microsoft is likely to release at least one follow-up beta by mid-year before deciding if it can afford to push the code through to Release Candidate stage and sign off in time for an end-of-year debut: just in time for all those shiny new desktops notebooks and netbooks to appear under the Christmas tree.

PS This is the same build as was leaked onto the BitTorrent network last week. but now you can get it legit – and probably at a pretty decent clip.