Ladies and gentlemen, start your browsers. The release candidate for Microsoft’s new operating system, Windows 7, is now available. Well, available to MSDN and Technet subscribers, anyway. If you’re not one of them, then you’ll have to wait till next Tuesday, May 5th.
The release candidate is what Microsoft hopes to release commercially in a few months time. They claim they’re still aiming at a January 2010 release, but they’ve been running ahead of schedule up to this point, so it’s entirely possibly that’ll be brought forward a couple of months to hit the holiday season if there are no major issues with the OS between now and then.
The release candidate will be available from now until the release of the OS, and it’ll work until June 1st 2010. Microsoft’s basically giving you 12 months of a free operating system, in exchange for you letting them know when you have difficulties with it.
The company has seen well over a million downloads of the Windows 7 beta, and over 100,000 of those in the UK. They’re hoping that demand for the release candidate will be even higher.
If you’ve been running the Windows 7 beta, then you’ll already know about what it gives you over Vista or XP – considerably improved performance, security, usability and support for touchscreens and internet-enabled appliances, so that you can right-click files to send them to your television, for example.
Since the beta was released, Microsoft’s made more than thirty major changes to the OS. There’s changes to taskbar scaling, improved driver support, remote media streaming and more gestures for users of touchscreens, but the biggest addition is a virtual machine running Windows XP. This’ll be available to small businesses who might be running software that has trouble with Windows 7 in the ‘Professional’ edition of the OS,
Microsoft has also removed a couple of bits of functionality from the beta. They’ve taken out Bluetooth audio support, as well as the ability for people to log on as a ‘guest’ to the computer. Interestingly, they’ve also taken out the ability for USB sticks to autorun programs when they’re inserted. This is to help guard against virus infection by rogue USB sticks.
If you want to give it a shot, then keep an eye on this website on May 5th. When we get a proper download link, we’ll update this post.