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.
Those who want to try the newest version of Microsoft's Windows operating system before it reaches commercial availability on October 22 can still download the final pre-release version until the end Thursday, August 20.
This so-called "Release Candidate" (RC), is the last test version of Windows 7, according to a post on the Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) Windows 7 team blog this week.
The RC contains all but the very last fixes to the final Windows 7 code.
Last minute downloaders will be in good company.
"We've had over eight million downloads of the Release Candidate," Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told financial analysts on July 30, just a week after Windows 7 was signed off and "Released to Manufacturing" (RTM) on July 22.
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, an earlier blog post said.
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.
Other than the annoying 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 InternetNews.com.
The RC is available for download until the end of the day Thursday.
"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 said.
Article courtesy of InternetNews.com.