Windows 7 free for a year
Microsoft made the first release candidate of Windows 7 available for free download on Thursday. In an unprecedented move for the company, the software will run on a user's PC for more than a year.
Windows 7 RC1 can be downloaded now by MSDN, TechBeta and TechNet subscribers, and the general public will be able to download it on 5 May. There is no limit to how many copies can be downloaded. The software will run until 1 June 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 pre-briefing 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 multi-touch 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.
The Release Candidate includes all the features that will be available in the final version. "The Release Candidate is the near-finished product. It's now just final regression testing and performance enhancements.
Microsoft refused to be drawn on the final release date of Windows 7, sticking to the company line that it will be ready by January 2010, although most observers are predicting a late summer/autumn 2009 launch.