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.
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. 😉
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.
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.
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”.