Microsoft's website struggled to stay online today as the masses swooned to its online properties to get their hands on a special pre-release version of its upcoming operating system.

Windows 7, touted at CES by CEO Steve Balmer as the center of users technological solar system, is to be made available this morning, but eager users flooded the website with hopes of finding the download.

U.S. Browsers returned errors such as Connection Interrupted or Internet Explorer cannot display the webpage, or simply displayed a blank screen. At times the website would respond, but at a snail's pace.

On Wednesday, when Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer set today as the date for the beta's rollout, a spokeswoman for the company noted that it would cap the number of activation keys for the code at 2.5 million.

The new operating system uses much of the same technology as the previously much-maligned Windows Vista.

However the new version promises to make PCs faster and easier to use. Its aim is also to allow users to install peripheral devices more easily and to have less irritating warnings and notifications. Ballmer pledged that Windows 7 will help laptop batteries to drain slower.

But users who aren't able to obtain an activation key will still be able to download and install the beta, then run it on a 30-day trial basis.