Microsoft has unleashed the public version of the Windows 7 Release Candidate (RC), which will be made available to one and all at least through the end of June 2009. The Windows 7 RC was shipped to MSDN and TechnNet subscribers and technical beta testers last week, but the version supplied to the public won't expire until June 1, 2010, giving the public an exceedingly long time to use a free version of the next Windows.
"A release candidate is typically the last development milestone before release to manufacturing (RTM), signifying that engineering and development have made significant advancements and that the code is entering the final phases of testing," a Microsoft statement reads. "The Windows 7 RC is the result of a lot of the great feedback we received during the Windows 7 Beta."
Microsoft is making 32-bit and 64-bit versions of the Windows 7 RC available, and the download consists of an ISO file that must be burned to disc or otherwise extracted so that the OS can be installed. Microsoft is offering English, French, German, Japanese and Spanish versions of the Windows 7 RC.
And although the RC won't expire until June 1, 2010, Microsoft will institute bi-hourly shutdowns of the Windows 7 RC beginning March 1, 2010, in a bid to get testers to upgrade to the final version. At that time, anyone still running the Windows 7 RC will see their PC shut down automatically every two hours. (A similar automatic shutdown will begin for the Windows 7 Beta on July 1, 2009.) On June 1, 2010, the Windows 7 RC will be marked as "not genuine" and will enter the Windows non-genuine experience.
For more information about the Windows 7 RC, please check out the SuperSite for Windows if you haven't already.
You can download the Windows 7 RC here.