Only Microsoft would publicly promise a summer beta of a product, and then actually ship that beta but fail to provide it to users without any explanation at all. Months after revealing that it would ship Internet Explorer (IE) 7 Beta 1, Microsoft did just that yesterday, but declined to make it publicly available. Instead, only MSDN and TechNet subscribers, and private beta testers, have access to IE 7 Beta 1.

"We're committing to deliver a new version of Internet Explorer for Windows XP customers. Betas of IE 7 will be available this summer," IE Product Unit Manager Dean Hachamovitch wrote in the IE blog back in February. "Think of today’s announcement as a clear statement back to our customers: 'Hey, Microsoft heard you. We're committing." Sadly, all Microsoft is committing is another PR mistake: The company never said anything about the beta being a small, private affair.

Indeed, Microsoft's message at the time was pretty unambiguous. "We will be able to put \[IE 7\] into beta by early in the summer," Microsoft chairman Bill Gates promised in February. "And, one thing to be clear on, this will be in the Internet Explorer that's available to people using Windows XP SP 2." In an article touting IE 7 published that same day, Microsoft wrote, "the beta release is scheduled to be available this summer."

Now, the language has changed. On Microsoft's IE 7 Web site, the company notes that "Beta 1 is not intended for broad consumer trial and evaluation but it does offer a preview of some of the benefits that Internet Explorer 7 will offer customers ... This release is specifically intended for developers to confirm that existing applications and websites will work well with Internet Explorer 7."

So IE 7 is technically available as promised. Just not for you.