Windows 7 RC1 can be downloaded now by MSDN, TechBeta and TechNet subscribers, and the general public will be able to download it on May 5. There is no limit to how many copies can be downloaded. The software will run until June 1, 2010, in what a Microsoft marketing manager described to ZDNet UK as a "try before you buy" scenario.
"There is no cap on the amount of downloads [of Windows 7 RC1]," Laurence Painell said in a prebriefing session on Wednesday. "However, we only recommend that people with a reasonable amount of IT knowledge use it."
Windows 7, the successor to Vista, brings new features such as multitouch interaction, a redesigned taskbar at the bottom of the desktop and an integrated search feature that allows the user to search across the client PC and corporate network at once. Power management has also been improved, as Microsoft has been keen to focus Windows 7 on portable computing.
When Windows 7 went into beta in January, an executive from the company told ZDNet UK that the beta version was "feature complete". However, Painell revealed on Wednesday that two features present in the beta — a built-in Bluetooth audio driver and the ability to have a guest account — have been dropped from the release candidate.
Painell could not explain why Windows 7 would not automatically include a Bluetooth audio driver. He suggested, however, that the omission of the guest-account feature was because Microsoft "has not seen a huge amount of uptake of it".
The omission of another feature — the ability to have thumbdrives or any media other than optical disks autorun — was announced by Microsoft on Tuesday. The company said this decision had been taken in the light of recent malware, such as the Conficker virus, that uses USB memory sticks as an attack vector.
Asked how this would affect, by way of example, Linux distributions that are designed to run from flash drives, Painell said that users "could still run that distribution from an optical disk".
The RC1 also has new features not found in the beta version, such as the ability to stream media between PCs in a Slingbox-like fashion. Another addition — that of an XP virtual machine built into the Professional and Ultimate version of Windows 7 — was announced by Microsoft on Friday.
Painell said an XP application running on Windows 7 would "look like an XP application, but you won't need a virtual PC interface running around it". He added that those applications would be able to share the clipboard and documents folder with their Windows 7 host.
has anyone downloaded this?