RealTime IT News

Windows 7 'Release Candidate' Debuts for Some

Microsoft began limited distribution of the final test version of Windows 7 on Thursday -- putting final release of the planned replacement for Windows Vista that much closer to reality.

Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) also finally revealed this week that, although the company has repeatedly promised that Windows 7 would be out by next January 30, a senior official was quoted as saying having it ready for sale before the end of the year is "accomplishable," according to the Windows IT Pro blog site.

However, Microsoft officials wouldn't confirm the "accomplishable" quote or stray from past remarks in a follow-up request for comment. A spokesman repeated the standard party line that Windows 7 will be out by the third anniversary of Vista's consumer launch in January 2007 in an e-mail sent to InternetNews.com.

Called a "Release Candidate" or RC, Thursday's release marks the start of the last testing phase before Windows 7 is "Released to Manufacturing" -- RTM in Microsoft's lexicon. After RTM, it can take between two and five months for a major Microsoft operating system release to fill distribution channels and actually reach public sale.

Microsoft confirmed late last week that it would begin releasing the first -- and probably, only -- RC to subscribers to its MSDN and TechNet technical services as of April 30.

The public will be able to download and test Windows 7 RC beginning on May 5, the company said last week.

"We heard partners and customers and worked hard to deliver the highest quality Release Candidate in the history of Windows," Bill Veghte, senior vice president for the Windows business, said in a statement released today. "We have more partner support than we've ever had for an RC and are pleased to say that the Windows 7 RC has hit the quality and compatibility bar for enterprises to start putting it through its paces and testing in earnest."

Timing is everything

InternetNews.compreviously reported that Microsoft's OEM and developer partners received the RC in mid-April.

Throughout the development cycle for Windows 7, Microsoft has tried to keep significant information, particularly dates for various milestones in the process, under wraps but with little success.

InternetNews.com reported last September that Microsoft was aiming for an RC release in mid-April and an RTM date in early June.

However, a month ago, cracks started to show in the company's careful planning. With the public RC pushed off until early May, it appeared that Windows 7 had experienced a schedule slide, possibly due to the half million comments and bug reports users submitted during beta test, which began in early January.

Instead of an RTM date in early June, therefore, some observers are now pegging RTM as late June or even July, pushing Windows 7's final release out past the late summer back-to-school sales.

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