Forget the rumours: the official word from Microsoft, announced today, is that the release candidate version of Windows 7 will go to developers April 30, and be available for general public download May 5.
Although arguably shaping up to be the most important release in Microsoft's history, the announcement was delivered in a droll commentary on the official Windows 7 blog this afternoon.
Microsoft New Zealand Windows product manager Ben Green points out that the official date for Windows 7 to ship to PC makers remains January 2010.
However, with Google working with HP and others on a netbook version of Android, the heat is on Microsoft to get Windows 7 out the door sooner (unlike the current Windows Vista, all versions of Windows 7 run - and in NBR's experience, run well - on laptops in the superhot netbook class).
Any version of Windows goes through at least three stages: a beta programme (which the new OS was rushed through with unprecedented brevity), the RC (Release Candidate) version - a kind of dress rehearsal before launch, incorporating all changes resulting from the beta editions - and an RTM (release-to-manufacturing) version that goes to PC makers shortly before shrink-wrapped copies hit retail shelves.
Mr Green says more than 20,000 New Zealanders downloaded the beta version of Windows 7, despite is truncated run.
The beta version of Windows 7 continued to undergo several enhancements after its month-long public run earlier this year.
Two more new features appear in the RC version: a virtual Windows XP mode, for running older software, and media streaming, for sharing content with any other internet-connected Windows 7 PC.
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