Something is only to be expected, i.e., the fact that there is a sudden surge in request for Windows 7 Beta that Microsoft were unable to satisfy. Should we have higher expectation, i.e., that providers must be able to satisfy this surge as it is a predictable one? I think we should.
There are a few things where a surge in request can be expected: new Microsoft Windows, new Microsoft Office, new Eclipse distribution and new Ubuntu distribution. Eclipse had this problems once. I know, I was one of those who tried to download Eclipse as soon as it was released and after 2 hours, still cannot get a complete distribution. [I have a 1GBit internet connection at work, so normally I expects Eclipse to download in 3 minutes] However, they took steps to increase the number of worldwide servers available and had solved this problem at least two major distribution ago. Yes, if you download on the day of first release, it is going to be slower, much slower. There is probably nothing anyone can do about that. The point here is you get your download in reasonable time.
Ubuntu download is also reasonable on the day of release. However, with Eclipse and Ubuntu, I always download them 24 hours after the actual release time. By then, the surge would had reduced to very high demand. Waiting for 24 hours is worth the wait for me.
Can Microsoft emulate what Eclipse and Ubuntu has done? I think so. They have the money, and keeping keen Microsoft users happy always goes a very very long way. I hope they do it.
I leave it to Microsoft to decide whether they should or not. If they want to, the first thing I will say is to get rid of the notion that they are only going to serve the first XXX customers. One important reason why I decided to get Eclipse and Ubuntu a day later is it does not make a difference to me. I am sure a lot of other people have the same thoughts as me. With download limits I would be forced to try to be in the front of the queue, and beat the queue if I can by initiating multiple download requests. This make the situation worse. I can tell you that those people who are keen to get their hands on the latest Microsoft Windows/Office built knows how to initiate multiple download requests. Getting rid of the quota reduces the surge volume and make the experience better for everyone, Microsoft technicians included. The end results is the same since Microsoft had to get rid of the quota to keep its users happy. Does it makes business sense to impose a quota? Not much. If you think that any PR is good then I suppose creating an artificial shortage to get on to BBC News website is good. From other perspective, it’s dubious: restricting distribution to prevent drop in sales later just simply does not add up since the beta has an expiry date; Stopping piracy? There is at least one pirate who will get to download before the quota is reached; Creating excitment among user community? Is it worth making them angry because they cannot get their hands on for a reason that they attribute to be your fault?