May 5, 2009 7:50 am

The Windows 7 Release Candidate (RC) is here!

As we previously announced, today the Windows 7 RC is now available for anyone interested in giving it a spin! Typically, a release candidate is the last development milestone before release to manufacturing (RTM), signifying that engineering and development have made significant advancements and that the code is entering the final phases of testing. Essentially, the Windows 7 RC is the result of a lot of the great feedback we received during the Windows 7 Beta. That’s why I’m so excited to use it and excited for YOU to use it!

So do you want to put the Windows 7 RC through its paces? Just like with the Windows 7 Beta, you can register to download the Windows 7 RC at the Windows 7 page on Windows.com.

You will be required to register in order to download the RC. This is where you will also be provided with a Product Key to activate your copy. Previously issued Product Keys for the Windows 7 Beta are not intended for continued use, we are recommending that you register and get a new Product Key for the Windows 7 RC.

The Windows 7 RC will be available for download as an ISO image which will need to be burned onto a DVD. Additionally, consistent with the Windows 7 Beta, the Windows 7 RC will be available in one edition – Windows 7 Ultimate.

The Windows 7 RC will be available in English, French, German, Japanese and Spanish and each language will be available in 32-bit and 64-bit versions.

Current Windows 7 Beta users please take note: we encourage you to NOT upgrade directly from the Windows 7 Beta to the Windows 7 RC. We are asking (and recommending) people either do a clean install or upgrade from Windows Vista SP1 – as these are the officially supported upgrade paths for Windows 7. For more information on the upgrade experience for the Windows 7 RC – see this post from the E7 Blog. On my PCs, I will be doing clean installs of the Windows 7 RC. While there is a workaround for doing a Beta-to-RC upgrade, I would like to ask you to join me in helping the Windows engineering team by using only the supported installation and upgrade paths for the Windows 7 RC.

Please remember: both the Windows 7 Beta AND Windows 7 RC will expire.

  • For Beta, bi-hourly shutdowns will begin July 1st, 2009. You will be alerted to install a released version of Windows and your PC will shut down automatically every 2 hours. On August 1st, 2009 if you are still on the Windows 7 Beta your license for the Windows 7 Beta will expire and the non-genuine experience is triggered where your wallpaper is removed and “This copy of Windows is not genuine” will be displayed in the lower right corner above the taskbar.
  • For the RC, bi-hourly shutdowns will begin on March 1st, 2010. You will be alerted to install a released version of Windows and your PC will shut down automatically every 2 hours. On June 1st, 2010 if you are still on the Windows 7 RC your license for the Windows 7 RC will expire and the non-genuine experience is triggered where your wallpaper is removed and “This copy of Windows is not genuine” will be displayed in the lower right corner above the taskbar.

I suggest making plans to move to a released version of Windows well before the automatic shutdowns start to occur to prevent data loss. Remember, pre-release versions of Windows are unsupported.

As with any pre-release version of Windows – I recommend backing up your important data before installing it (see backup methods for Windows Vista, which also apply to Windows 7).

For more information on the Windows 7 RC, I suggest checking out the Windows 7 RC FAQ on Windows.com.

Be sure to spread the word – let your friends know to give the Windows 7 RC a spin! The Windows 7 RC will be available to people for download through July.

Thank you for testing out the Windows 7 Beta! Your feedback with the Windows 7 Beta has been essential in making Windows 7 a great Windows release! And we also appreciate your help with trying out the Windows 7 RC.

And of course as we’ve been saying for some time now, we are committed to making Windows 7 available within three years of the General Availability of Windows Vista.

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