updated 08:15 am EDT, Tue May 5, 2009
Windows 7 RC Public
As promised, Microsoft today made the Windows 7 release candidate available to the general public. The wider distribution follows a developer-only launch and gives the same access to the new build, which improves on the public beta through a modified taskbar and Aero Peek behavior, performance improvements and more features accessible through touchscreens. Business owners also have access to a beta XP emulation mode that allows most incompatible apps to still run properly.
Like with the developer release, the build requires at least a 1GHz processor and at least a DirectX 9-capable graphics processor. Depending on whether the user opts for the 32- or 64-bit version, the release candidate either requires 1GB of RAM and 16GB of hard drive space or 2GB of memory and 20GB of storage.
Microsoft notes that there will be unlimited keys available for the Windows 7 pre-release, but that it will be taken down in July. Installations will last until June 2010 but will start pushing users to adopt the final version in March, when the OS will shut down after two hours of use.