Windows 7 Release Candidate Due May 5

Microsoft Corp. confirmed Friday that it will make Windows 7 Release Candidate (RC) available to the general public on May 5, a date that had leaked last weekend when a company site briefly published details about the upcoming milestone.

In an entry to a company blog, Microsoft spokesman Brandon LeBlanc also announced that the release candidate would be available before then to subscribers to a pair of services targeting developers and IT professionals. "The RC is on track for April 30 for download by MSDN and TechNet subscribers. Broader, public availability will begin on May 5," LeBlanc said.

Earlier in the day, 32- and 64-bit versions of Windows 7 Build 7100, the one users and bloggers claimed Microsoft would ship as the RC, leaked to file-sharing sites. Both versions were being downloaded in large numbers.

LeBlanc did not provide any details about Windows 7 RC's May 5 public download, such as the time of day the file will be posted or whether availability will be limited in any manner. When Microsoft launched Windows 7 Beta in January, it first said that it would restrict the preview to the first 2.5 million users, which caused a stampede that brought the company's severs to their knees. Microsoft restarted the launch the next day after sorting out the mess and adding more bandwidth and servers.

Later, Microsoft dropped the download limit and extended the time it was available to a full month.

Microsoft has told users that they will be unable to do an in-place upgrade from Windows 7's beta to the release candidate without taking some special steps, however. Instead, the company has asked users to either revert to Vista before upgrading with Windows 7 RC, or do a clean install because "upgrading from one pre-release build to another is not a scenario we want to focus on because it is not something real-world customers will experience."

According to another online leak, Windows 7 RC will be offered only in English, German, Japanese, French and Spanish versions.

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