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No More Windows 7 Release Candidate Downloads

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Microsoft has pulled the plug early on downloads of the Windows 7 “Release Candidate,” nixing availability of the upcoming OS’s final test release.

Microsoft has pulled the plug on early downloads of the upcoming OS.

Company spokespeople confirmed to earlier this week that the
last chance to the Windows 7 Release Candidate (RC) would be at the end of the day today. Instead, however, the chance to get a copy of Windows Vista’s replacement expired
Thursday morning.

That means new users who wanted to take the RC for a test drive before Windows 7’s
commercial release on Oct. 22 can no longer do so.

“Sorry, Windows 7 Release Candidate (RC) downloads are no longer available,” Microsoft
said in a blog
on its TechNet site Thursday.

A second Microsoft spokesperson confirmed that the blog post is correct. “The RC
download period ended at some point this morning. Sorry for any confusion,” the
spokesperson said in an e-mail.

Some paying customers already have the final, release version of Microsoft’s highly
anticipated Windows 7. Those include subscribers to Microsoft’s TechNet and MSDN online
services as well as volume licensees with
Software Assurance contracts.

The RC marked the last test version of Windows 7, according to a post on the Microsoft

Windows 7 team blog
this week. The RC contains all but the very last fixes to the
final Windows 7 code.

“We’ve had over 8 million downloads of the Release Candidate,” Microsoft CEO Steve
Ballmer told financial analysts on July 30, just a week after Windows 7 received
managers’ sign-off and “Released to Manufacturing” (RTM).

Microsoft began shipping the RC on April 30.

The RC will run without problems until March 1, when it will begin automatically
shutting down every two hours until it finally expires on June 1, 2010, according to an
earlier Microsoft blog post.

Similarly, users who were running the Windows 7 beta had their systems expire on
August 1, following a month of
automatic shutdowns

Since most beta testers will not have access to the final RTM code until it hits store
shelves in October, Microsoft suggested those users could install the RC to tide them
over until Windows 7’s commercial availability.

One more hurdle for Windows 7 testers

Other than the automatic shutdowns, there is one further caveat to installing the RC.
If the RC user later chooses to buy the commercial release of Windows 7, it will require
what Microsoft refers to as a “custom” installation.

“Basically, a custom install requires the user to backup their data, run through the
installation, re-install desired applications and programs, and then restore saved data,”
a Microsoft spokesperson said in an e-mail to

“After that date, you will still be able to register your product and get registration
keys, but the media will no longer be available for download,” this week’s blog post

Update adds confirmation that the RC download period has ceased.

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