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Consumers can download the Release Candidate build of Microsoft's slick new OS, Windows 7, and try it out for themselves. Both 32- and 64-bit versions are available for download.
Consumers can finally get their hands on a near-release copy of the latest version of Windows

Windows 7 has the tech community and the consumer world buzzing.  For consumers, it has been a long four months since the release of the Windows 7 beta which saw hundreds of thousands of downloads.  Some turned to torrents to try to swipe the newer beta builds or the recent Release Candidate, but for most it was a matter of waiting.

The waiting is over at last as Microsoft has officially released the Release Candidate 1 build of Windows 7 to the general public.  The build is available directly from Microsoft for download.

Microsoft is suggesting that novice users not download the build as no tech support will be provided.  Customers who download the build will have to burn the ISO onto a disk.  Unlike the more recent beta candidate builds, the RC1 build requires a complete reinstall, even on machines with a working build of Windows 7.

Both 32- and 64-bit versions of the build are available.  Microsoft recommends users' computers have at least 1GHz processor, 1GB of RAM and 16GB of free disk space.

Microsoft is promising not to limit the number of downloads of the new release, like it initially did for the beta release (before later relenting and allowing unlimited downloads).  The beta release proved a headache for some, as the large demand crashed some of Microsoft's servers at the time, rendering many eager users unable to download the beta from Microsoft.  Microsoft is hoping that this time around things go more smoothly.

The test builds of Windows 7 will work until June 2010, but starting in March 2010 they will shut down every two hours.

Microsoft has publicly stated that Windows 7 will launch "no later than January 2010."  However, it now appears that the new OS will land in time for the holiday season, as Acer has leaked its release date as October 23.

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RE: Working OK so far
By Screwballl on 5/5/2009 9:36:35 AM , Rating: 2
I have the 64bit on my main desktop (E6600, 4GB DDR2, 320MB 8800GTS) and it is 2-3 times faster than Vista x64 is, but still slightly slower "feel" than XP SP3.

I have the 32bit on my laptop (CQ60-211DX, 2GHz Celeron, 2GB RAM, Intel 4500M video) and it runs circles around the default installed Vista Home Basic. I initially tried to install it from within the Vista OS itself (Upgrade option) but it refused to boot after that, rebooting with BSOD but it went so fast I could not get any specific details. So I went with a clean install and is running like a champ now. It works well with Avira and Comodo firewall (although you do need to use Vista compatibility to install Comodo properly). Even the Synaptic mouse driver and other HP tools I tested work well without any compatibility install needed.

RE: Working OK so far
By jarman on 5/5/2009 9:52:47 AM , Rating: 2
I don't understand what you are calling 2-3x faster, nor how you are qualifying that statement. Are you talking about specific benchmarks, boot times, etc? Can you provide data? 2-3x seems like a bit of an overstatement.

Not flaming, just interested in seeing the data..

RE: Working OK so far
By omnicronx on 5/5/2009 10:42:31 AM , Rating: 2
Its all about perception. I would say performance wise, it is very comparable if not better than XP SP3 in terms of performance. That being said, it is not truly 2-3 times faster than Vista. They have just changed many things to make your experience far more fluid. Boot times are greatly improved, coming out of hibernate is almost instant.

They have also definitely improved upon superfetch (it also does not seem nearly as aggressive as with Vista i.e HD is not always flashing) and as I said before, generic use is far more fluid. They have definitely taken a page out of the Apple playbook, benchmarks and numbers are not everything. Giving the user the perception (using animations while loading etc) is a far more effective way of making an OS seem faster.

RE: Working OK so far
By Screwballl on 5/5/2009 12:13:53 PM , Rating: 4
It is a combination of actual load times, boot times and perception. On this same system, XP SP3 loads in just over 2 minutes (typical boot times was around 2:03-2:10), W7 beta (x86) came in around 2:45, W7 RC 7100 (x86) comes in around 2:25, and Vista x64 is at a usable state around 3:45 to 4 minutes. I have tried fresh clean installs different security programs, no security programs, after multiple attempts, different hard drives, no matter what I do, I cannot get this x64 Vista Ultimate to come in any lower than 3:30.
As for application boot times, using the exact same Photoshop CS2 program and options, no scripts or anything extra. Amount of time to load the program itself, not an image or anything else, from double clicking the program link itself: XP SP3 = 21 seconds, Vista x64 = 48 seconds, W7 beta = 22 seconds, W7 RC 7100 = 21 seconds.

As for the feel of it, W7 does feel that it can be used and is in fact usable before even XP but there are still programs loading in the background when it is at a usable point. Usually on XP this is met with a delay of several seconds before you see something actually happen. With Vista x64, there is a delay of usually 10-15 seconds under the same circumstances. I did testing using IE8, Firefox 3.0.10, Google Earth, and Songbird.

RE: Working OK so far
By jarman on 5/5/2009 12:35:58 PM , Rating: 2
Are those boot times hard disk only or are you also using Speedboost?

RE: Working OK so far
By anotherdude on 5/5/2009 2:52:40 PM , Rating: 2
I have tried fresh clean installs different security programs, no security programs, after multiple attempts, different hard drives, no matter what I do, I cannot get this x64 Vista Ultimate to come in any lower than 3:30.

I have a very similar spec system and Vista 64, after a fresh install, gets usable way faster than that for me. Same on my much lower spec laptop - my conclusion is that your experience is not typical.

RE: Working OK so far
By icanhascpu on 5/5/2009 9:54:11 AM , Rating: 2
and it is 2-3 times faster than Vista x64

I'd love to know what is improving that much.

RE: Working OK so far
By Sazar on 5/5/2009 11:46:51 AM , Rating: 3
File copy, disk cleanup, disk defragment are all items which have sped up tremendously.

Also there is no inherent lag here and there like I would experience sometimes under Vista.

I have 3 machines, 1 with Vista Enterprise and 2 with Windows 7 at the moment and overall, I don't notice a lot of difference in day to day stuff.

But, Aero peek is vastly superior to anything else I have used before and I love not having Vista Sidebar running.

Also, the new Media Center is massively more responsive and intuitive than before. XP Media Center sucks, Vista Media Center is pretty good, Win 7 Media Center is just about perfect.

Lastly, adjusting to larger fonts/icons for a media center tv setup is not only smooth but it is readible without any of the inherent fuzziness from XP and Vista.

Well done Microsoft :D

RE: Working OK so far
By Spivonious on 5/5/2009 4:22:56 PM , Rating: 2
They also did some work on the graphics system to use video card memory for drawing windows instead of system memory. That right there should give a huge speed increase and lower memory usage.

channel 9 has some videos about it. (

RE: Working OK so far
By Sazar on 5/5/2009 5:18:34 PM , Rating: 2
I didn't notice this as much, but then I usually turn off my animations.

Regardless, items like Aero Peak on my HTPC (2GB mem, AMD sckt 939 4400+ proc) are running flawlessly. I also have an 8800 g92 gpu in there. Vista ran fine, Win 7 runs much smoother from what I have experienced and just having the larger fonts SMOOTHLY represented makes my life easier :D

I keep my taskbar at the top of the screen and there is still an issue with some of my apps and their close buttons appearing underneath my locked taskbar, however middle-clock to close works fine :)

RE: Working OK so far
By jrb531 on 5/6/2009 2:12:56 PM , Rating: 2
Any reason why you do not shut off Vista Sidebar?

You close it down the first time and it asks "do you want to run this at startup"

Seems easy to me


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