One week after it began at cybercafes, Valve has opened the Counter-Strike: Source beta to the public--sort of. The developer announced that starting at 7pm PST (although Daylight Saving Time is still in effect on the West Coast), buyers of Counter-Strike: Condition Zero and the ATI/Half-Life 2 can go to Valves Steam Web site to begin downloading the beta for the Half-Life 2 multiplayer component.
In addition to the CS: Source beta, Valve will be providing a Valve Source technology benchmark to determine if the company's systems will run Half-Life 2. According to a statement from Valve, the benchmark will be available to all beta participants via the main menu. Beta participants will have the option to send their benchmark results to a Valve-hosted Web site that tracks the results.
In other news, Valve CEO Gabe Newell has posted a message on the hl2fallout.com forums saying preloading of Half-Life 2 will start Thursday, August 19. HL2 pre-load will begin tomorrow, read Newells post. It was ready yesterday, but we decided to use the bandwidth to get out the [benchmark] first, since I get pelted with zillions of questions from people asking how their PCs will run Half-Life 2. Hl2fallout.com is the venue where Newell first mentioned the preloading last week. His statements were later confirmed to GameSpot by Valve.