Windows 7 RC is available for TechNet and MSDN subscribers to download

We are pleased to announce that the Windows 7 Release Candidate (RC) is available for immediate download to our TechNet and MSDN subscribers. If you’re not a TechNet Plus subscriber, please click here to learn about the benefits of becoming one.

Windows 7 RC will be made available to the general public on May 5, 2009. You will then be able to download Windows 7 RC here, through the Springboard Series on TechNet. Windows 7 Ultimate is the Release Candidate edition; it will be available in 32-bit and 64-bit versions in English, French, Japanese, German, and Spanish.

Windows 7 RC offers many improvements over the beta release, including:

  • DirectAccess User Experience — Corporate Connectivity Notification has been removed to simplify the user experience; only Internet Access is displayed.
  • User Account Control (UAC) — In the beta release, a user could change the notification level in the UAC control panel without receiving a prompt for administrative credentials. The UAC control panel now runs in a high integrity process; changing the level of the UAC will prompt for confirmation. When a user is logged on with a standard user account, that user must provide administrative credentials to change the default UAC notification level.
  • AppLocker — The AppLocker UI includes a new Group Policy administrative template, which can be configured by an administrator to display a customized URL when AppLocker blocks an application from starting. The message can be used to reduce help desk calls by directing users to a helpdesk intranet site.
  • System Partition Size — The Windows 7 partition drive size (required for Bit Locker and Windows Recovery Environment) has been reduced from 200MB to 100MB.
  • Network Troubleshooting — Support for diagnostics is greatly enhanced, including a new Windows Troubleshooting Pack for DirectAccess within Control Panel. If a resource is not reachable (for example, a Web site fails to load), use 'Diagnose Connection' in Internet Explorer or 'Troubleshoot problems' diagnostic entry points to help determine the cause of the issue.

To learn more about Windows 7 from an IT professional perspective, check out our screencasts as well as our resources on Deployment, Application Compatibility, Security, Imaging, and more—all of which are available through the Springboard Series on TechNet.

Test drive Windows 7 RC today to see for yourself—and to show your colleagues, users, and customers—how Windows 7 delivers improved management, security, reliability, productivity, and performance.

Some things to be aware of with the Windows 7 Release Candidate:

  • Please plan ahead for Windows 7 Beta and Windows 7 RC expiration dates. To avoid interruption, you’ll need to rebuild your test machine using a genuine version of Windows 7 before the software expires. Windows will remind you when the expiration process is beginning; two weeks after this notification your PC will begin shutting down every two hours.
    • Windows 7 Beta expires on August 1, 2009, and bi-hourly shutdowns will begin July 1, 2009.
    • Windows 7 RC will expire June 1, 2010, and the bi-hourly shutdowns will begin on March 1, 2010. In both cases, you’ll need to rebuild your test PC to replace the operating system and reinstall all your programs and data.
  • Since Windows 7 RC is not the final release, your PC will gather and send information to Microsoft engineers to help them check the fixes and changes made based on testing of Windows 7 Beta.
  • Windows 7 RC requires that you do a clean install. Before installing Windows 7 RC, please read the Release Notes and Things to Know for important information.*
  • Keep your PC updated. Be sure turn on automatic updates in Windows Update in case we publish updates for Windows 7 RC.
  • Microsoft doesn’t offer technical support for prerelease software, including Windows 7 RC. If you have problems or questions, we encourage you to visit our online forums, where you can get answers from our Windows Community and Support Professionals.

*These documents will be updated on May 5, 2009.