I suppose quite a few IT pros are now downloading Windows 7 RTM from Technet and Windows 7. When I started the download yesterday, download speed was extremely slow. It was only 20 KB/sec. After I received some tweets from people located in the US reporting that their download speed is more than ten times as fast, it occurred to me that Microsoft must have limited the bandwidth to Europe. Perhaps someone in Redmond is still annoyed about the European Commission? But then messages from other parts of Europe started pouring in, indicating that other people experienced quite different download speeds.

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Finally, Lukas Beeler enlightened me. The download speed depends heavily on the download manager. Akamai's download applet is much faster than the Microsoft File Transfer Manager. I then downloaded Windows 7 at 700 KB/sec. I am relieved to know that Microsoft has no intentions of cutting off Europe from the IT world. 😉

microsoft-file-transfer-manager akamai-download-manager I must admit I never realized that there are two different download manager's on Technet and MSDN. Microsoft File Transfer Manager is started when you download software from the Subscriber Downloads section. To use the Akamai download manager you have to click on "Top Downloads" first and then chose the Windows 7 edition you want to download.

It is interesting to note that Windows 7 Professional x64 is the most popular download on Technet. I expected most IT pros to go for Windows 7 Ultimate. But it is good to know that 64-bit is obviously more popular than 32-bit.

netstat.akamai netstat-microsoft-file-transfer-manager So why is the Akamai download manager so much faster than the Microsoft Transfer Manager? This is easily explained. These downloads don't come from Microsoft but from Akamai, a company that provides distributed Internet content delivery. When I downloaded Windows with the Akamai download manager the file came from four different Akamai servers. In contrast, Microsoft File Transfer Manager downloads only from one source. (I used NetWorx netstat to check the network connections.) Another reasons for the poor download speed from Microsoft is that most subscribers simply don't go to the Top Downloads page.

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By the way, if you want to resume a download after restarting your computer, you only have to click on the link that the Akamai applet placed on your desktop. It is a bit more complicated with the Microsoft File Transfer Manager. It is a Windows executable (TransferMgr.exe) which you can find in C:\Windows\Downloaded Program Files\. You have to launch the program from the command prompt because you can't see the files there with Windows Explorer even if you disabled "hide protected system files" and enabled "show hidden files and folders".

  1. Avatar
    Mark Wilson 14 years ago

    I thought the Top Downloads was something Microsoft introduced overnight to deal with the massive surge (the direct download links for Ultimate and Enterprise were greyed out this morning but they were live last night).

    The Akamai downloads are certainly faster though. It took me about a hour to pull down the 32-bit version of Ultimate. x64 Enterprise and WAIK are taking a bit longer…

    Full marks to Microsoft for keeping the TechNet and MSDN download sites up and running whilst they the top downloads over to Akamai.

  2. Avatar

    I don’t know when they introduced Top Downloads, but I have seen this Akamai applet many times before. I just didn’t know that it is from Akamai.

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    Bob 14 years ago

    Are the Windows 7 x86 & x64 downloads now all hard-coded for a single version like Ultimate or Professional? Why not a single version for each processor, as in Vista? Or is this only for Volume licenses?

    (I recall seeing a fix to change an INI file in the ISO image to remove this restriction.)

  4. Avatar
    Sean Constantine 14 years ago

    Very interesting; thanks for the share!

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    Bluh 14 years ago

    in response to #3 (bob), it is possible to do what you are wanting. you must edit the file “ei.cfg” in the \sources folder of the install disc. there are three sections [EditionID] (editions you want available should be added under this), [Channel] (can change between OEM or Retail), and then a [VL] header (0=not VLK, 1=VLK). i have also read that alternatively, you can remove this file completely and it will default to giving you all versions to choose from. all versions ARE on the DVD, this file just limits which versions it makes available to you to see! do research on this for more info.

  6. Avatar
    Lukas Beeler 14 years ago


    I suppose this was done to improve to OOBE experience for people who buy retail/upgrades. It’s easily solved by deleting the sources\ei.cfg file if you need to deploy multiple versions from a single medium.

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