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Windows 7 RC lock-down? (Updated with Microsoft leak)

Has anyone else noticed that the sudden rush of interim Windows 7 builds we experienced over the past month has just as suddenly dried up? Based on conversations I've had with Microsoft officially, and some unofficial conjecture, I'm starting to think that we're now in a Windows 7 Release Candidate (RC) information lock-down. That is, I believe that Microsoft is trying to pull an Apple and unveil some secrets--and really surprise people--in the RC build. And instead of handing out builds willy-nilly to its TAP partners, or whoever else had been leaking the several post-builds I installed and evaluated (only some of which I've written about on the site for source protection reasons), Microsoft is holding things close to the vest right now.

At least it appears that way. Over on the ever-verbose Engineering Windows 7 blog, Microsoft executives continue to wax on and on about absolutely nothing new, as if trying to keep our attention away from the fact that they're hiding something ("Look, we 'designed' Aero Snap!" Nothing to see here!). Conspiracy theorists, unite ... Sort of. This is only partially a guess.

That said, I'd really like to see another interim build. :)


Update: A number of readers have pointed that Microsoft has (inadvertently?) posted the following page to TechNet today:

Windows 7 Release Candidate

Published:  May 2009

Download instructions

Welcome to Windows 7 Release Candidate (RC) testing.  We’re on our way to Windows 7, and the RC is a great opportunity for IT professionals like you to take Windows 7 and begin testing it in your real environment. You get to see what’s coming, and we get to see if our changes and fixes from the Beta testing are working correctly.  We want to encourage you to install and actively test the RC code. This will help us ensure Windows 7 is the best possible release, and help you get ready for Windows 7 deployment.

Here’s what you need to know:

This is pre-release software, so please read the following to get an idea of the risks and key things you need to know before you try the RC.

  • You don’t need to rush to get Windows 7 RC. The RC release will be available at least through June 2009 and we’re not limiting the number of product keys, so you have plenty of time.
  • Watch the calendar. Windows 7 RC will expire on June 1, 2010. So if you install the RC release you’ll either need to upgrade to the final version of Windows 7 before that date, or install a prior version of Windows. (For more about installing Windows, see installation instructions.
  • Protect your PC and data . Be sure to back up your data and please don’t test Windows 7 RC on your primary home or business PC.
  • Technical details/updates: before installing the RC please read the Release Notes, and Things to Know for important information about the release.
  • Keep up with the news. You can keep up with general technical information and news by following the Springboard Series blog or Windows team blog. Want technical guidance, tips, and tools? Visit the Springboard Series on TechNet.
    And, you can get non-technical news, tips, and offers on the Springboard Series on TechNet
  • Keep your PC updated: Be sure turn on automatic updates in Windows Update in case we publish updates for the RC.
  • Microsoft Partners: Learn more about Windows 7on the Microsoft Partner Portal.

Get the download

The 32- and 64-bit versions of Windows 7 RC are available in five languages: English, German, Japanese, French, and Spanish. (Note: The RC version will not be available in Hindi or Arabic.) Just choose the version that fits the system you'll be using, pick your language, and click go to register for and download the RC.

Downloading the Windows 7 RC could take a few hours. The exact time will depend on your provider, bandwidth, and traffic. The good news is that once you start the download, you won't have to answer any more questions – you can walk away while it finishes. If your download gets interrupted, it will restart where it left off. See this FAQ for details.

Just so we're clear: The RC is not here. And this page will almost certainly disappear.

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